Important Role of Sales and Marketing in Success of Diemersdal Wines

With over 8 000 various units of wine available on the South African market, this is one of the most competitive arenas in the consumer game, and a brand’s success depends on the quality of people who have to sell it to retailers and restaurants. Inge Coetzee, brand manager at Diemersdal, is one of the parties ensuring this Durbanville Estate’s presence on those burgeoning restaurant wine-lists and in on-consumption establishments. Here she gives her impressions on the current state of the wine market.

Is there a difference in the wine consumption trends of Cape Town compared to Gauteng?

The main difference I pick-up is that the Gauteng consumer is much more brand-focussed, which stands to reason seeing their generally more commercial approach to wine. They do not have easy physical access to wine estates and wine routes, so have few real, stories and relationships to be loyal to. I find the restaurants in Gauteng are keen to stock pricier wines and they love award-winners – especially the niche restaurants. The hotel chains have an appetite for older vintages and unique offerings, and here Diemersdal’s Sauvignon Blanc Reserve, Eight Rows, Grüner Veltliner, Private Collection Red Bordeaux Blend and Pinotage Reserve are sought after – older vintages too.

Is Sauvignon Blanc still the main variety consumers associate with Diemersdal?

Absolutely, and for two reasons. Firstly, Sauvignon Blanc continues to grow as the most popular white variety in the South African on-trade, outselling Chardonnay and Chenin by far. It is an easy variety for consumers to understand and identify with, it is zippy and refreshing as well as having enough complexity to be a great food wine. You see customers looking at the Sauvignon Blanc section on the wine-list first, scanning the wines for price and brands, the latter determining the final decision to purchase.

The consumer’s loyalty to Sauvignon Blanc drive Diemersdal’s commitment to the grape, having led to us now offering nine different styles of this one variety. Customers can select between a fresh quaffing wine, a complex skin-ferment Diemersdal Wild Horseshoe, a wooded wine and even a noble late harvest.

Are restaurant clientele drinking more wine?

Most definitely, as restaurants are making efforts to compile exciting wine lists and through various communication channels wine brands are reaching out and capturing the imagination of the public. This leads to brand awareness and loyalty – two aspects we prize dearly at Diemersdal.

Restaurants also offer more pairing-menus, always great for wine, and the success of the Diner’s Club Wine List competition sees the standard of wine-lists growing in terms of diversity and quality offerings.

What has led to the success of Diemersdal in the competitive on-consumption market?

Consistency in quality of the wines is of the utmost important. Customers are loyal to brands, but more loyal to quality. We also have to keep our prices in-line with what consumers expect to pay for wine and the whole team – from viticulturist, wine makers, sales and marketers have to show a passion for the product. Something we have, believe me.

Then you have to be active in the market, offer impeccable service and maintain superb relationships with clients.

There must be many challenges…

For sales and getting onto wine-lists, you have to be at the right place at the right time. Restaurateurs change their lists once, twice a year and you have to ensure you are top of mind when this happens. The satisfaction of seeing your wine listed cancels the inevitable losses one has to live with. But always keep trying!

How big a factor is wine pricing?

This is profound in the restaurant world where mark-ups run between 150% and 300%. Certain wines end-up being just too expensive and as a result they move slowly – especially white wines where the perception exists that these must be cheaper than red. With the competitiveness of the market, your pricing must be right, and seeing that restaurants sell more entry-level to mid-tier wines, one has to be able to offer a reasonable and diverse selection in that category. Diemersdal makes a point of having a number of wines available in the entry-level and mid-tier sections, as well as certain wines at higher prices – as well as wine-by-the-glass options.

Flexibility and diversity are key.

How is Diemersdal adapting to the needs of the trendy younger consumer?

Interesting packaging and stories for each wine. And brand-building through social media and new media. We also put a lot of work into training young waiters and sommeliers who become ambassadors for our brand among their peers.

Which other drinks categories are wine’s major competitors?

The diversity of craft-beer has made inroads, as has as the excitement in the gin category. But these products are complementary to wine. Today’s consumer wants to have as many options available, sometimes going through beer, wine and spirits in one day. So wine is always part of the mix, and as long as that is the case, it is fine with us.