There has been some introspection in recent opinion pieces on this site around South African wine in international markets – both on how the world sees us as well as our actual performance (see here and here). Nutshell version: our wines are consistently getting great recognition from international critics (Tim Atkin, Neal Martin, Jancis Robinson etc.), yet our exports are not as strong as all this positive sentiment would lead you to think, especially not in the USA.
It’s a conundrum we keep revisiting – surely if our wines are excellent, people should be buying them? We know it’s not that simple, of course, but we get mired in the simplistic rhetoric of the argument: We strive to gain the approval and commendation of the world’s foremost wine critics. We succeed in this (regularly, and with an impressively varied number of wines/producers) but this is no magic fix for an anemic international sales performance. Does the wine drinking public not heed the proclamations of these revered commentators?
I am not discounting the importance of wine scores in the context of sales. A recent study looked at what influences a customer’s willingness to pay for wine and higher scores correlated to higher prices, which is encouraging for us since we’re also embroiled in a struggle with pricing our wines correctly in overseas markets. However, a 90+ rating for this or that wine evidently does not lead directly to world domination…
So how do we crack the USA? Well, if I had the answer, I’d be selling it to wineries and raking in the royalties. I have a few ideas to share, though.
We are definitely circling the right ideas in our regular discourse. I’m just not convinced that the implementation is sufficient or currently very effective. Nevertheless, here is my idea of a “get well” plan for sales in the US of A:
I could go on – and I am sure, dear reader, that I will harangue you about this again before long – but for now I think we all need to agree that a concerted, thorough strategy is needed; one that runs the gauntlet from our very own doorstep right through to the hands of the consumer on the other side of the world. We’ve already nailed the tricky part: we HAVE world class wines! And not merely a handful on the very top end – our mid-level offerings punch way above their weight in terms of value. The world just doesn’t know it. We are a little blip on their radar. Or rather, a small drop in a very, very large barrel. Isn’t it time we made a suitably massive splash?