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Wine businesses slow to change and connect with consumers, says business guru

Published:  21 November, 2014

Wine businesses are too slow to change and engage with consumers, says business mentor Mike Greene.

Wine businesses are too slow to change and engage with consumers, says business mentor Mike Greene.

Mike GreeneMike Greene

Speaking at this week's Wine Vision conference in London, Greene, chairman of and HT Drinks, as well as a former TV Secret Millionaire, said: "If customers are changing and will change, maybe we should change."

He spoke about how important it is to make an emotional connection, and how to enhance branding and advertising by looking more closely at neuroscience. "You need to get better at cut-through," he warned wine firms.

Engaging with customers is about forming an emotional connection, Greene said. The recent Sainsbury's Christmas ad has "resonated with a lot of people", and has had over 10 million views on YouTube.  "Whether or not they immediately connect with the brand, it taps into the programming that they've already had. That Sainsbury's is about caring and sharing," said Greene.

You've got to know your audience's passion points, and not be so "in their face" with your product, Greene said.

He gave the example of the launch of Harry Potter's Magical World as having "influenced the influencers" in a non-traditional way. The marketing director invited the seven top Potter bloggers to a webcast of the launch - it went viral to 354 million people on Facebook within 24 hours. Five thousand people queued to enter the park on the opening day. Since then it has increased traffic by 20% and revenue by 41%, Greene said.

On the "incredible growth" of the discounters, Greene questioned why wine producers weren't itching to be part of it, across the whole retail spectrum. "Don't you want to be like Coca Cola - 'within arm's reach of desire?'"

Many companies, especially in the wine world, have not done well in engaging with millennial consumers - but Greene said convenience operator Nisa now has a 17-year-old on the board, to try and better understand the people it is targeting.

He also pointed out that the "grey surge"was a powerful spending group - in the second quarter of 2013, over 50s accounted for 68% of wealth in the UK.

What's more, some wine firms a still putting the wrong type of people in front of customers - technical staff who blind them with too much information rather than telling them about the brand. "BMW don't put an engineer out in the market - people have different skill sets."

"All too often we hold on to what was true in the past instead of letting go and moving onto the next thing," Greene concluded.