Direct-to-Paradox

As many of you may know, we have been working for a while in creating some innovative solutions for wineries to help them reach their customers. One of the elephants in the room is Direct-to-Consumer and Direct-to-Trade sales.

We have recently spent quite a bit of time talking with wineries about some of our new methods, one of which being , and have received some very favorable responses, as well as some opposition.

One of the biggest “fears” expressed by wineries, especially the smaller ones, is they feel obligated to only use their current sales channel. Their fear is: if they were to begin selling direct, their distributors, who are fighting direct sales instead of asking how they can be a part of it, will take it as a slap in the face, and then either: A) refuse to continue distributing their wines; or B) become complacent in the wines because they feel their efforts may be futile if the end consumer purchases the wine online. This is because they are not receiving any commission… because again, this particular distributor is not trying to find a way to become involved in direct sales, and instead is fighting it.

So how does one convince a small winery that embracing new sales channels, and increasing their exposure to the consumer through various other methods |wink wink| will truly benefit them in the long run?

My next question would be… why is there so much power in the distributors hands? The large music “distributors” such as BMG, Columbia, etc… represent the large “brands”, and the smaller bands have resorted to finding ways to distribute themselves… ie. Pandora.com (great site by the way) and others sites such as Myspace.com. Notice in the music industry.. the word producer has become almost synonymous with the word musician. Just as in the wine industry, the word distributor will become almost synonymous with the word winery.

You look at a winery such as Windsor Wines, who has never had a distributor.. they have been a direct sales winery since they were founded by Rodney Strong in 1959, and they are still a profitable winery. Haven’t tried their wine yet, but I have some on the way, and its got a nice little personalized label to go with it.

Granted we realize that not all wineries have the skills to market themselves, and many wineries don’t have the money to pay others to market for them, but thats all going to change.

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