There are more than 9,000 domestic wineries in the United States, yet 90% of all the wine sold in America is produced by a mere handful of producers. Yes, the Wine Business Monthly WBM30 list is out in this month’s issue and it lists the top 30 domestic wineries by volume of cases sold in the previous year. The Napa Valley Register quipped, “The fact that most of the domestic wine sold in this country is produced by a handful of companies is not shocking. What is shocking is that there are now more than 9,000 domestic wineries competing for the remaining 10 percent of sales.” Clearly the top 30 producers need little help developing market share. But what can the remaining smaller producers do to increase their share of the remaining 10% (or even make a play for a spot in next year’s WBM30 list)?
Many, if not most of these top wine companies already use GreatVines or a solution like GreatVines to manage sales activity. In fact, some of them have invested significant capital into the development of their own, proprietary sales/marketing and distribution management systems. Obviously, there is no question among these top performers that there is a critical need for such systems in order to achieve at the highest levels.
What’s more, the top suppliers also enjoy virtually all of the mind share of the wine industry’s highly consolidated distributor market. This means it is all the more difficult for smaller producers to make headway without the levels of attention distributors tend to reserve for the top volume producers. Instead, you face the exceedingly difficult challenge of selling your products to a small percentage of the overall market, ahead of the vast majority of producers also seeking to do the same.
How difficult is this challenge? Here’s an admittedly simplified, but still illustrative calculation. The top 30 wine producers have already locked up about 45 million customers (90% of the estimated 50 million wine drinking customers in America). You’re one of 9,000 domestic wineries seeking to improve access to the remaining 5 million (10%) of customers. Your distributor is not likely going to put much focus forward to help move such negligible volume (to them) on your behalf. So, what can you do?
The answer is, you’ll have to take your marketing and sales efforts directly to the accounts into which you wish to sell. And that’s precisely what many successful smaller wine producers do. It’s not news that this takes significant time and capital to achieve; sending sales teams into the field, hosting events/tastings and all manner of other promotional activity designed to increase sales. It is even more laborious to track and measure results and manage customer relationships across divergent markets nationally. This is precisely the type of complex and multifaceted business challenge that software solutions are designed to address.
Do you think it is coincidence that the leading producers invested significant sums into technology solutions for wine sales? Yet, few producers outside that rarified group can afford to invest in the development of proprietary tech solutions. After all, they’re already investing heavily in the sales force needed to take the game directly to accounts across their entire sales territories. Luckily for the 9,000 remaining wineries, there is GreatVines, a cloud-based platform boasting a far lower cost barrier to entry than custom software design and development. What’s more, the tools in the GreatVines platform are designed specifically for beverage sales and marketing by beverage alcohol industry veterans who understand exactly what challenges face small to mid-sized producers like you.
Look, if you are making the investment in the workforce required to operate without the benefit of truly attentive distributors, you need to invest in tools to support that team. For a nominal price, you can provide your sales force with tools and practices almost guaranteed to ensure their success. It would be foolish not to seize this opportunity for competitive advantage!