Thursday, February 25, 2010

An interesting response to one of my Twitter questions from Danny de Nobrega

From: "Danny de Nobrega"
To: Mike Ratcliffe
Subject: Response to Twitter question

Dear Mike,
Since gaining interest (for both professional and personal reasons) in the marketing of wines and particularly those in the luxury segment, I have learned that you have achieved great success in the marketing of your Warwick and Vilafonte wines. I have also noted that you are somewhat regarded as a pioneer in developing and implementing new media strategies to market wines in the top-end market segment.
I have thus been following your blogs and Twitter updates and pondered before how relevant and effective these new media tools are with regards to effectively reaching the top-end consumer.
After reading your Twitter update and accompanying blog post regarding this question I gave it some more thought… Here is my two cents:

Do Wine Blogs Impact Your Brand? Read this article then let me know your thoughts.

I now certainly believe that blogs have an impact on your brand, both in terms of brand awareness and brand equity.
Besides the inherent following a blog may have it seems a growing trend for credible bloggers to be aggregated into major online portals. Your brand may be viewed by the blog's direct followers - where that post gets fed into other portals, newsletters, etc the brand exposure gained becomes significantly more than the blogs followers. I believe this will become a growing trend as many of the top bloggers are experienced writers and journalists by profession and bring with them the credibility that will ensure their posts are aggregated and viewed by a larger audience.
That covers the positive impact bloggers could have on brand awareness.
Now for brand equity. The effects of a positive review or post on a brand is obvious with regards to the blog's direct community. Furthermore as brands in the past had sought out influencers and early adopters and appealed to their brand aspirations, so brands could benefit from bloggers, which in my opinion have become the influencers and early adopters in the new media and online arenas. Thus I believe a positive brand message spread by a credible blogger not only increases brand awareness beyond what is initially thought but also builds positive brand equity. They could steer a potential customer to their initial trial or purchases. It is here however where the offline brand touch-points come into play. All aspects of the brand identity and image should be consistent and live up to its brand mantra or message.
I believe the impact of blogs can be really positive if a brand adheres to the rules. As all new media related articles or posts would say; brands in the online arena should aim to start and build a conversation and not force itself upon online users. I don't believe "buying" a blogger would ever work or as your blog posts says; never get in an 'online flame war'. I believe that this "honest" review of one's brand ensures that bloggers maintain their credibility as influencers and early adopters – ultimately to the benefit to the brand.
In short, wine blogs impact your brand.

Kind Regards
Danny de Nobrega
Luxury Brands
Tel: +27 21 702 3436
Fax: +27 21 702 3437
Suite 181, Private Bag X16, Constantia, 7848

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Some cool pics taken yesterday during Martha Stewarts Warwick and Vilafonte tasting in our Mountain Penthouse

Three Power Ladies - Martha Stewart, Norma Ratcliffe & Zelma Long
Inspecting the Warwick Wedding Cup
Choices choices....
Martha Stewart, Norma Ratcliffe ,Mike Ratcliffe
Drinking from the Wedding Cup

Martha Stewart - decisions decisions? Warwick or Vilafonte?

Mike Ratcliffe
Warwick Estate & Vilafonte
P.O.Box 2 Elsenburg, 7607, South Africa

FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER www.twitter.com/mikeratcliffe

Monday, February 22, 2010

View of Cape Town from the (windy) deck of MS Amsterdam - World Cup Ship

Mike Ratcliffe
Warwick Estate & Vilafonte
P.O.Box 2 Elsenburg, 7607, South Africa

FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER www.twitter.com/mikeratcliffe

A first look at World Cup accommodation in Cape Town Harbour- MS Amsterdam

Mike Ratcliffe
Warwick Estate & Vilafonte
P.O.Box 2 Elsenburg, 7607, South Africa

FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER www.twitter.com/mikeratcliffe

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Today. A rare sighting of Kwagga's at Warwick

Mike Ratcliffe
Warwick Estate & Vilafonte
P.O.Box 2 Elsenburg, 7607, South Africa

FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER www.twitter.com/mikeratcliffe

What a day - a view across the dam at the Warwick Estate Picnics

Mike Ratcliffe
Warwick Estate & Vilafonte
P.O.Box 2 Elsenburg, 7607, South Africa

FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER www.twitter.com/mikeratcliffe

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

It's very early - and I am flying from Richmond Virginia to New York City

Mike Ratcliffe
Warwick Estate & Vilafonte
P.O.Box 2 Elsenburg, 7607, South Africa

FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER www.twitter.com/mikeratcliffe

Monday, February 08, 2010

Jam in the USA - flavoured wines (Part 2)

On a snowy, cold and generally miserable day last week, I walked into a quaint Washington DC wine store and noticed a new facing on the shelf. The ‘Jam Jar’ is a marketing creation of Andre Shearer, the respected wine marketer that has been part of the team working tirelessly to put South Africa on the map in the USA. The ‘Jam Jar’ is a ‘sweet Shiraz’ in beautiful jam-jar-style packaging and selling below $10 which is the sweet spot (pun intended) for the volume wine market in the USA. I spent an hour presenting an in-depth tasting in this fine wine store to the owner who was intrigued by everything vinous, and particularly interested in the South African story. ‘Although I don’t like the wine, I stock it because it sells really well’ was the answer to my prodding question about the Jam Jar’s seeming intrusion into his collection of celebrated terroir-driven wines.

 

The South African wine industry has been pretty unsuccessful in penetrating the US wine market – the biggest in the world. There are many reasons for this including a lack of political will, a sluggish DTI still convinced that SA should focus on the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India & China) countries, a WOSA board that until recently has lacked the commitment and perhaps most importantly, a lack of funds. The South African category barely exists despite the fact that the US potential continues to grow. On May 11th this year WOSA will launch its most ambitious marketing and public relations exercise and it is going to be interesting to see what kind of support it receives from both the producers and the US media and trade. If managed correctly, this event could be just the tonic to rejuvenate and revive our struggling efforts. It is no coincidence that the event happens less than a month before the kick-off of the biggest sporting event of the year in South Africa. This double-whammy has potential to give SA momentum in the USA – and the industry should be in New York driving it hard.

 

The USA is a commodity market driven by marketing and in this sense a strong and innovative marketing bias is going to be the perfect tool within the framework of raw capitalism. At the same time it is imperative that we manage brand South Africa to ensure that our reputation is maintained and managed. Perhaps it would be appropriate to refer to ‘Australia 101’; the ‘Yellow-tail’ and ‘Little Penguin’ lesson. This is an Aussie case study in which a (probably) unintended move away from solid generic marketing of tangible benefits to a new reality based on the commoditisation of Australian brand equity has caused considerable pain down-under. South African producers in general and WOSA in particular are adept at positioning South Africa correctly and have been doing a pretty good job in Europe and the UK for years – this path should also be followed in the USA, with the knowledge that a meaningful image takes years to craft and requires sustainable efforts and funding.

 

This brings me back to the question of coffee, chocolate, jam and other flavours that are popping up in SA wine brands. Is the development of this ‘flavoured’ category the ‘silver bullet’ that we need to sell ship-loads of wine to Wal-Mart customers or it the bastardisation of South Africa’s carefully manicured efforts at positioning. Ultimately we walk a fine line between an individualistic ‘whatever sells’ ethos and a ‘for the greater good’s generic marketing philosophy.

 

I believe that South Africa’s significantly improved marketing capabilities should be celebrated. We are no longer the ‘also rans’ in the creation of effective wine marketing strategies and this is being recognised by the trade and the media. The creation of new categories of wine and the rationale behind them should also be celebrated. I personally love these developments and have no doubt that they will effectively lower barriers to entry and increase the size of the pie for everyone. Let us, as an industry be cogniscent of the fact that South Africa is a country that has based it’s success on our excellent quality to price ratio.

 

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Saturday, February 06, 2010

Playing in the Richmond Virginia snow with Bartholomew Broadbent

Mike Ratcliffe
Warwick Estate & Vilafonte
P.O.Box 2 Elsenburg, 7607, South Africa

FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER www.twitter.com/mikeratcliffe

Friday, February 05, 2010

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Apture