Over the last week or so, I’ve interviewed a number of Hawke’s Bay’s leading winemakers and industry experts to prepare an article on the region’s wine biz for the next BayBuzz Digest (watch for it next week).

My takeaway … wine marketing is incredibly complex, at least if your trying to sell the upmarket reds that are building a reputation for Hawke’s Bay.

Here’s just a brief list of 25 things that could go wrong, or otherwise thwart you.

  1. Global recession dampens demand
  2. Global glut of grapes
  3. The exchange rate sucks
  4. All of the above happen at the same time
  5. You have the wrong vines in the ground when consumer tastes change
  6. Your country’s wine image overseas is built on cheap whites
  7. You do not have a cheap white to sell yourself (i.e., no door-opener)
  8. Bad weather
  9. The bugs get to your vines
  10. The National Cycleway is by-passing Hawke’s Bay
  11. You don’t have a clear point of differentiation for your wine (i.e., no story to tell)
  12. Nobody mentioned you need a compelling story to sell upmarket wines
  13. The exact same wine that won gold in Sydney wins nothing in London the next week
  14. You’re attacked for having an over-sized carbon footprint
  15. You discover that more and more wine is being purchased in supermarkets (and who wants to buy a $50 bottle of NZ merlot at Wal-Mart’s?)
  16. Consumers ask: If your wine is so great, why is it so cheap compared to the French stuff?
  17. Waitstaff say: I get paid on commission … why would I promote your cheap reds to my customers over the expensive French stuff?
  18. The importer representing you in the States imports competitive brands from two dozen other countries
  19. Your distributor represents four dozen other brands
  20. And can’t pronounce Ngatarawa
  21. And confuses Craggy Range with Coors
  22. Your brand is so small and unknown even Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement wouldn’t represent you while they were in NYC
  23. You’ve identified 2,000 buyers, shops and restaurants overseas that are prime prospects for carrying your wine (none of whom has ever heard of Hawke’s Bay), and then realise it will take you 20 years to personally visit each one once
  24. Because of the previous points about distribution, you have never actually met an end consumer of your wine
  25. It wouldn’t matter anyway, since the discriminating consumer is promiscuous and never buys the same brand twice

Overcome these obstacles and, I’m told, you can make a fortune making quality red wine in Hawke’s Bay.

Watch for a more thorough BayBuzz treatment of these issues next week.

Tom Belford

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  1. Australia has over 100 million cases of wine stored, will have a further 200 million cases if they do not pull out 20% of vines.

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