Building Brand Recognition

In March this year I wrote an article about the 2008 Decanter World Wine Awards and highlighted the importance of winning as it relates to brand recognition.

The recent announcement of the DWWA International Trophy winners point to SA success again, this time with a total of six winners covering various categories. Adam Lechmere of Decanter Magazine wrote “In an evening full of surprises, South Africa emerged triumphant from last night’s Decanter World Wine Awards. The country won 12 Regional Trophies and an amazing six International Trophies “. Only 26 International trophies are awarded and the only other country to come close was Australia with four.

So why the surprise then at SA’s success? Perhaps it has to do with brand recognition and marketing strategy and to be fair the Australians have excelled with Brand Australia. Their 2025 vision continues to promote winemaking excellence and service delivery into foreign markets.

Brand recognition is the key to driving sales and our Trophy and Medal winners are going to take prime shelf space in stores like Waitrose, Marks & Spencer etc. The aisle displays will herald Decanter Magazine Winners and customers will be attracted to these winning wines. Afterall, everyone loves a winner and perceptions that consumers have about SA wines is also going to be altered.

But what about locally? Whose responsibility is it to raise awareness about our wines? The obvious answer is the individual winery, but I strongly disagree for the following reasons. The winery is part of more than just one industry – the wine industry; it is part of the tourism industry, the second largest industry in the Western Cape, after Agriculture. The link is thus already there and it makes sense that both industries work together.

So do they? Yes, but not closely enough. There needs to be a general raising of information and service standards across the board to raise the profile of our wines amongst local consumers and visiting tourists. Our tourist guides wishing to be listed as Wine Specialists need to be suitably qualified; our Front of House staff at wineries, restaurants and hotels need to have a basic understanding of what the Cellar door experience offers; our tourism offices need to raise awareness about what our wine routes and related heritage sites offer; in other words collective, accurate and enthusiastic information needs to be continually supplied and sustained.

It is a well-known fact that brand recognition of products abroad are increased if that recognition exists back home. By consolidating marketing efforts we can collectively carry SA wine forward and look towards receiving more international accolades.


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