By. Neil Williamson, The Grumpy Marketing Guy
One of the many distinctions in marketing is push versus pull marketing. Push marketing focuses on getting the product “pushed” out your cellar door. Pull marketing focuses on getting consumers to “pull” your product off the shelf.
Distributor promotions (see below) are an example of push marketing while coupons are a good example of pull marketing.
So where does Virginia wine fit into this picture?
Well, there is a need for this chart to include the three tier system where many wineries are represented by wholesale distributors this adds another layer for between the manufacturer and the retailer. This presents the opportunity to push to the wholesaler as well as the retailer.
As an overarching marketing theme, Virginia wine must continue to develop brand identity to differentiate itself as a brand rather than “Wine” as a commodity.
Long before George Foreman started selling countertop grills he unsuccessfully attempted to market his own branded milk (then and now a commodity). His pull strategy was to look into the then new TV viewing audience and tell potential consumers, fist raised, to go to their grocer and demand that they carry George Foreman milk.
Virginia is headed in the right direction when it focuses its significant marketing and advertising budget on the wine press in the US and especially in Virginia. While getting wine placed in the Whole Foods Markets in Kensington, London is a solid news story – I would like to see more Virginia wine in the Whole Foods Markets in Virginia as well!
In most cases once a winery reaches a certain production level, it makes economic sense to work with a distributor. Some wineries are amazed that they are still required to work sales once they have a distributor – this is a fatal flaw. Distributor relationships are like all relationships they require work, a push marketing campaign.
Wineries are wise to remember that a distributor is only as good as the wines in its “book”. Some distributor books are more like the phone book for the number of wines they represent, this is not a critique merely a statement of fact.
How do you make your wine stand out . #1 have great wine #2 is “push” marketing. Don’t bother with #2 if you have not accomplished #1.
A few years back, First Colony Winery, was looking to excite their distributor sales team and therefore increase their sales. But the fall campaign concept needed a hook. As the client label featured a large silver star near the top, we built a promotion around the Redskins Cowboys football game. The top sales representative received two tickets to the game, a hotel room and a voucher for a dinner at one of the restaurants carrying their wines. The competition was fierce and in the end sales were significantly increased year over year.
It is important to remember that a pull marketing campaign, or even an awareness campaign can be used as leverage for a push marketing campaign. If a winery is planning a brand building marketing campaign, they would be wise to inform its distributors and its retail partners to better position advance sales. Only if the product is on the shelf can a pull marketing strategy work.
Neil Williamson, The Grumpy Marketing Guy