Diogo Robalo

Marketing wine: beyond fermented grape juice.

(Escrevo este artigo em inglês porque considero que é boa altura de pensar o vinho como produto de exportação. Mesmo.)

It is easy to say that Portuguese wine is special. We know it is. It is our wine and we all love Touriga Nacional, Tricandeira, Antão Vaz e Alfrocheiro. The problem is that 10 million – and shrinking – people is not enough. We need to get it out there. And I don’t think we can rely on Angola and Brasil as decisive markets for the future. Europe is right here and represents more than 50% of the World wine market. The UK alone – Brexit or no Brexit – has a €4 billion+ market. Benelux almost €2 billion. Scandinavia is getting there.

But to sell our wine to these demanding and sophisticated markets in relevant quantities we need to understand what they want. And what they want is very much what we supply with our tourism and it’s declinations: quality, warmth, ‘coolness’, accessibility and a je ne sais quoi. I think our uniqueness has advantages over Spanish or Italian uniqueness, for a very simple reason: we are still a low visibility country and culture in the international markets. Let’s play this to our advantage without ruining it.

How can we turn our success with tourism in success in wine? Some of you will say that we already see a significant increase in exports. Sure, but it is not enough. We need to make Portuguese wine count in the international market. Here are 10 ideas:

Wine is culture. Make that culture count.

Individual size is not important. Networked size is.

Branding is about honesty as much as sophistication.

The internet is not a problem. It is a great opportunity.

Wine and food go together. Let’s take advantage of our superior gastronomic culture.

Parker and Wine Spectator. Let’s be part of the new opinion makers.

We have a difficult language: Castelão is harder than Cabernet. Can we make it sound better without loosing identity?

Let’s really invest “no interior”. Countryside should be synonymous with quality, sophistication and future.

Working together is more effective. It is time we understand the merits of cooperation.

Good, honest and cool Content Marketing is critical to attract and engage a loyal audience that will spread the word. See my video on this subject here.

We have growing competition from the New World and this will not go away. But we also have a growing market where more women and young people are drinking wine and thus creating a larger market for the future. But this people are not just interested in getting drunk on cheap ‘plonk’; they want a taste of our culture, of our sunshine and our diverse terroirs. We must make a connection with every single one of this new consumers, so they came back for more. And with this interest and knowledge will come the interest in the tourist dimension of this business, an angle we should not neglect. But here we must work with the ‘Municípios’ and ‘Regiões de Turismo’ to create great experiences: it is not enough to put up some signs saying ‘Rota de Vinhos’. We must integrate the whole chain of stakeholders. And Marketeers and Wine Producers have a decisive role to play in this game. A game where the odds are very much in our favour.

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