Hollywood and Wine

 Winestars....the next big thing?

Recently the wine cork company I work for, Nomacorc sponsored an event at a wine fair called WineStars.  Based on a TV show in the UK called Dragon’s Den (similar to Shark Tank), Winestars is an innovative way to bring new wine brands and wine buyers together at The London International Wine Fair.  Instead of another blind competitive wine tasting or trying to reach key buyers in a one-on-one visit, Winestar World has brought a little bit of Hollywood to the difficulty of pitching a new product  to busy buyers at retail.  

Winestars is like Shark Tank for Wineries and Retail Wine Buyers 
That’s Entertainment
What they have developed takes the energy of a reality show like American Idol or Shark Tank and brings it to the rather mundane process of purchasing wine for retailers.  Over 50 new winemakers got a chance to pitch their new products to a talented panel of retailers from the U.K. representing all of the major outlets like Waitrose and Morrison’s.   Each brand got three minutes to tell their story about their product. The contestant gets to go beyond terroir to talk about what their brand stands for and how they are marketing their product. Best of all they get on the spot feedback from important decision makers in the industry. The goal is to be picked to have a follow up meeting and listing at the retailer. Several wineries will win follow up appointments to possibly get listings at major retail outlets. 

Starting Conversations

Winestar World
Robert Joseph and Catherine Monahan are the creative duo behind Winestars World  initiative and got me thinking  what a great strategy this could be in other industries for B2B companies looking to be seen as a point of connection.  Both Robert and Catherine are veterans of the wine industry and have lots of wonderful contacts.  What they created is a chance to infuse entertainment in what is typically a dull and less than exciting process. And, for the new winemaker trying to get their products listed and distributed at retail, the chance to meet so many key buyers at one time, in one place is nothing short of brilliant.

Imagine Match.com for the Wine Biz
Nothing is more difficult than getting appointments with key buyers when you are a young and inexperienced brand owner.  I know from repeated failures at getting appointments to see buyers at the top retail outlets in the U.S. Whether you are trying to reach a toy buyer at Toys R Us, the senior buyer of pool toys at Wal-Mart or the frozen food buyer at Publix, getting appointments at retail for a new brand is near impossible.  And in a crowded category like wine, imagine how difficult it would be for 50 winemakers to get even a few minutes with a dozen major retail buyer in the U.K.

The key marketing takeaway for me is that you can bring value to your industry when you are seen as a connector.  Winestars created an exciting and dynamic platform to allow business relationships to ferment.  How can this great idea happen in other industries?

Variations of this idea could work in lots of industries if you have a few smart innovators who see the power in engagement, in entertainment and in some creative right brand activity.  In this case, it was bringing some fun and excitement to how new wine products are introduced into the retail space. How can you help to bring together people from different parts of your marketplace’s  value chain to work on a common entertaining effort? When you know everyone is going to be in the same place like an industry trade show, the chance to enable connections is powerful.  Maybe you partner with someone who has the connections and you are in the background as a sponsor.

When you bring value to your industry and help create a benefit for many participants, that connectivity will bring you a benefit in the future.  We are living in a connection economy. 

How are you taking the lead in facilitating connections in your industry?

Note: When I am not sipping and swirling wine, I'm busy unraveling the mysteries of marketing and making connections. If you have one like-minded marketing friend who might enjoy my blog, please pass it along. Thanks. 

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