Given that United States is one of the Chilean wine industry’s most important markets, it was no surprise to anyone attending the Wines of Chile US Drinks Conference last week that the room was packed. All insight into this mammoth and complicated market is welcome, and Chile’s wineries came out in force to hear what the experts had to say.
Wines of Chile’s Managing Director, Juan Somavía, and US Director Lori Tieszen led the conference as the guests–three experts in different areas of the US drinks industry–presented a detailed analysis of the country’s wine market and spelled out the key for strengthening Chile’s position in the areas of brand building, effective marketing through social media, maneuvering through the country’s complicated Three Tier System that lies between producer and consumer, importing and distribution, and more.
Mike Ginley, co-founder and partner of Next Level Marketing, an agency that focuses on building premium beverage brands, urged the wineries to take advantage of the fact that Chile is the third largest supplier (only behind Italy and Australia), in a country that currently consumes 301,000,000 cases of wine each year. The potential to expand the distribution of Chilean wine is rich, especially given that beer consumption, which until recently was the beverage of choice in the US, has dropped in favor of wine, which has increased by 10.3% in the past five years. Chile is in the right place at the right time, with the perfect opportunity to attract new consumers and expand sales even more.
Steve Raye, a principal at The Brand Action Team, spoke on ways producers can expand their offer through large importers, local distributors, retail shops, and wine clubs. Innovation is key, he stressed, and social media is an essential element for brand building in these times. Modern consumers seek the “experience” of wine and social media interaction allows for a closer relationship between consumers and producers, who can use this format to better understand what their consumers want. The most important concepts, he stressed, are authenticity, transparency, commitment, and delivery.
John Beaudette, President and CEO of MHW Ltd, has a long history in the drinks industry. His company is an importer and distributor for the US and focuses on helping foreign beverage producers conduct business in the US. He spoke on one of the most challenging areas in the US market, its “Three Tier System” of producers, distributors, and retailers that come between the wine and the consumer.
The conference closed with panel discussions on importers, brand building, and the search for financial support.
Wines of Chile members can access the individual presentations by signing in to the WoC website and going to: Studies & Reports / Seminars / US Drinks Conference.