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Annual Assembly 2014

This year’s annual assembly saw over 150 attendees from Wines of Chile member wineries take the opportunity to sit down with the different agencies of the association to see how they have been promoting Chilean wine around the globe during 2014, and the strategy for 2015. Each agency presented their different activities including special tastings and events, press trips to Chile and further research into the market. It was also a chance for the six agency representatives to explain their market and opportunities for growth in 2015 and the future.

After an introduction by Vice-President Aurelio Montes and Director Claudio Cilveti, Ted Kalaboukis based in Toronto and Montreal, Eastern Canada, described the many different tastings and activities they had run and will run in 2014 including the Grand Tasting Toronto, RestBar Chile and participating in the Toronto Film Festival. For 2015 Ted explained that there was a good opportunity for increased sales as wine consumption is continuing to grow in this sophisticated wine market, however he commented that there is fierce competition in the region and that the ongoing economic crisis meant that most consumers were keen to find wines of really good value for the quality they deliver, which he believes Chile offers.

On the other side of Canada, Alana Dickson from Vancouver diagnosed the Western Canada market. Alana explained that their two main markets were the baby boomers (aged 55-65) and the Millennials (aged 18 –35s), which were both steadily growing and accruing the most spending power. While Alana said that awareness of Chilean wine was growing, she commented that the terms Reserva and Gran Reserva (and the flexibility of their application in Chile) can often confuse the market. Planned activities for 2015 included Winnipeg Wine Festival and Edmonton Taste Chile as well as many in-store promotions and press trips.

Marybeth Bentwood from the US and Canada market was the next to present at the Assembly and she talked about the great diversity of the US market, but in particular highlighted an important emerging consumer market: the millennials, which will number 90 million consumers by 2018. She explained that the younger generation had an edgy style and recommended innovative marketing and branding to suit their style. The general consumer trends in the US were seeing an increase in purchases of white and red blends, and also Pinot Noir. In general Chilean wine has seen a bit of a downturn in the US and Marybeth believes the way to re-engage consumers is through education and breaking the ceiling of the usual $12USD bottle purchase. Marybeth also explained that in order to compete with the other big markets dominating the USA, Wines of Chile members needed to be more present at the big events as well as creating new and engaging strategies that utilized social networks and two pronged marketing campaigns.

Moving to another continent Julio Alonso from Wines of Chile Asia based in Shanghai presented the differences that you find in the Asian market, and the different opportunities for vineyards to explore this rapidly growing market. Chile already has a good hold on the market with the second largest share (after France) of bottled wines exported to China, at 16% and Julio believes that the new office based there should be focused on maintaining and increasing this number. “It is a market that changes very rapidly, and always surprises me!” commented Julio on the importance to keep up with the trends in this dynamic market. One trend in particular is online wine sales, with 16 million online wine buyers out of the 38 million strong market of wine consumers. The main focuses for the office include educating Chinese consumers on Chilean wine, opening new markets, and expanding WOC’s influence in social networks and online commerce.

The next speaker was Claudia Soler from the WOC office based in Santiago who explained the different programs that have been the main focus of the association recently and also in the future. First of all a large – and very successful – investment in China involved creating a stronger online presence with a website in Chinese, a push on Weibo followers, contacting influential bloggers and increasing followers on the SNS public page. Claudia also explained WOC’s investment in the popular author Rex Pickett’s new book, Sideways Chile, which is going to be published within 2 months and is accompanied with a promotional video. Among other big activities this year Claudia introduced the Magical Mystery Wine Tour which will take influential US wine journalists to Chilean Patagonia with wine tastings, the development of the wine tourism project and database in Chile, and more detailed regional maps with all the climate and soil information for each region.

Alessandra Casolato spoke to represent the WOC agency in Brazil, which is another growing and important wine market. “Many of the consumers of wine are young in Brazil, around 25 years old,” Alessandra introduced her talk, identifying one of the most important groups for Chilean wineries to target. Chile is already the big leader in Brazil, with almost a 40% share, although Alessandra re-emphasized the importance of never resting on your laurels and to continue improving in this market, which is being heavily targeted by Argentina, Uruguay, Portugal and Brazil’s own wine industry.

The last agency to present, Anita Jackson from the Wines of Chile UK office presented findings from her market, starting with the positive news that the UK economy is improving with lower inflation and alcohol sales moving up by 3.9% in value. The positive news is that sales of wines between £8-£9 is the strongest growing area with a 27% growth, although the average bottle of wine still hovers at just above £5. While the UK market is still struggling to recover from the crisis the good news is that the value of wines being sold in increasing, and Anita explained that the focus will be on growing the market share by value and pushing Chilean wines in the £7 – £12 sector through also promoting the diversity of Chilean wine and the sustainable nature of Chilean wine. Upcoming events for the rest of the year include the innovative Beautiful South Trade Tasting in September, Sommelier Chile Challenge next week, and the Pequenas Tasting in November.

Finally Alvaro Arriagada presented the European market which is one of the strongest for Chile with many different countries buying over 44% of Chilean wine exports. Alvaro presented the upcoming activities including a tastings and events in Copenhagen, Dublin, London, Belguim and Holland. Another important development is the WOC Chilean wine app game (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=air.winesfromtheedgeoftheearth&hl=en) with trivia questions about Chilean wine and culture. As Fairs Manager too, Alvaro also talked about the important fairs coming up in 2015: Provein in Dusseldorf, Germany 15 – 17 March; Vinexpo in Chengdu, China at the end of March 2015; and Vinexpo in Bordeaux, France 14 – 18 June. These are in conjunction with fairs in Sao Paulo 22 – 24 April, and London Wine Fair 18 – 20 May.

You can read all the different agencies reports in the Member’s area of our webpage.

By Amanda Barnes

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