July 5 2010
Quick thoughts on wine news from the last week…
Displaced Leadership at WineAmerica
It is unfortunate that industry association WineAmerica is undergoing a Board of Directors led leadership change with its Executive Director position.
However, what cannot be discounted in this renewal process is the fact that the organization is headquartered in Washington, D.C. and hangs its hat on a mission of, “Encourag(ing) the dynamic growth and development of American wineries and winegrowing through the advancement and advocacy of sound public policy.” With that as a mission, they were caught positively flat-footed on HR 5034 – a piece of potential legislation that, if nothing else, is entirely about “sound public policy,” or the lack thereof.
“ … Don’t get caught watchin’ the paint dry” is an oft-quoted sound bite from the basketball movie, Hoosiers. Simply put, WineAmerica got caught not only watching the paint dry in regards to HR 5034, but also watching the grass grow.
In fact, WineAmerica was caught so flat-footed that other organizations showed themselves much more in tune with and proactive regarding the danger HR 5034 represented to its constituencies. The Specialty Wine Retailers Association (SWRA), in particular, mobilized outbound mindshare building activity along with a consumer campaign with a great deal more efficacy than any response from WineAmerica. Since April, everybody but WineAmerica continues to provide visible thought-leadership around the necessary reversal of HR 5034. They have been significantly outworked in effort and influence.
HR 5034 reminds us that when crisis strikes, enemies come in two forms – the enemy we know and the enemy within. The enemy within is the competing forces for the same good that expose ineffectual activity.
It may be true, as suggested in a Wines & Vines magazine article, that this personnel change with WineAmerica is about “cutting costs,” but it’s hard not to wonder if the change in leadership at WineAmerica isn’t related to its impotent advocacy when they needed to rise to the occasion.
Southern Wine & Spirits in Indiana
Here’s one clue that a press release from Southern Wine & Spirits trying to ingratiate itself into the state of Indiana was written by a public relations person who doesn’t have the wherewithal to Google, “Indiana state nickname.”
I’ve lived in the state for all of my 37 years. Never have I heard the word “Indianans.” Note reference above to Hoosiers. And, the bonus is “Hoosiers” rolls off the tongue a bit easier.
As a sidebar, one insider at a large competing distributor in the state noted, “We’re not going to make it easy on them.”
Facebook and DTC for Wineries
With IBG (formerly Inertia Beverage Group) licensing use of the ecommerce software from Vin65, presumably replacing use of their homegrown product, The ReThink Engine, one wonders what business direction they are headed in.
After acquiring the assets to the former New Vine Logistics last year, IBG used to be a “software as a service” ecommerce platform provider for wineries. Now, they are looking like a next-generation, full-service logistics provider, which is probably a good idea given that the game for ecommerce software looks likes its over, having been fully commoditized.
Secondarily, with Facebook making radical advancements in providing capabilities for brands to engage with customers, you wonder how long a winery having its own website for ecommerce even makes sense.
The game isn’t about the actual transaction, the game is about engagement with a customer, or potential customer.
Facebook’s ability to cultivate, know and engage with fans of your business on a one-to-one basis is tailor made for wineries.
Throw in the ability to incorporate ecommerce and build inexpensive interactivity and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the first of several wineries go Facebook-only this year, with a more significant movement happening next year.