It seems that at each international wine expo and trade show held throughout the Asia Pacific region the standout section is the Australian pavilion. The recent Vinexpo in Hong Kong was no exception with Wine Australia reporting constant crowds of enthusiastic buyers from mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, Malaysia and Thailand (among many many others).
This is an enviable position for Australian wine makers but it also presents a number of challenges. The first is the method of distribution and the selection of an appropriate range of partners. The second is supporting their brands in international markets. Finding a compatible partner for distribution is the first important challenge, but once that hurdle has been cleared the continual development of brand strategy and implementation of marketing campaigns begins.
For exporters in multiple markets, and this includes multiple regions within one country, the challenge is amplified. Multiple languages, cultures, advertising regulations. The list goes on.
In some cases, distribution agreements include marketing and brand development. If this is to be run by the distributor, the best approach is to provide brand training and supply branding and style guidelines to the distributor. This provides the distributor with a good foundation of understanding for how to manage the brands.
Where the distributor isn’t to provide brand support, the obligation is then with the exporter. This can be more advantageous as the budgets and messaging can be set by the winery. Of course, there is the complexity of dealing with a foreign market’s language and regulations which can be particularly complex for alcohol (just as they are in Australia). For example, Thailand has very restrictive alcohol promotions laws and Indonesian cities vary in their allowance for alcohol sales venues.
To give the best chance of success in new markets wine labels should be looking to identify a way to craft and execute a localised branding and marketing campaign. If there isn’t the internal expertise to properly identify the opportunities then a marketing partner is best way forward. When looking to find a marketing agency, a good starting place is either an export marketing agency or a marketing agency with a presence or experience in the export market. Above all else, being able to communicate your goals and have your objectives understood is critical. Without this, the likelihood of market success is diminished.
When presented with the opportunity to export to a new market, it is always sound policy to consider how a market is going to exist within a long term export market development strategy, if you have the right distribution partner and whether or not you have the tools to develop your brand.