Why Vinexpo is leading the way in bringing buyers and producers closer together
By Richard Siddle
Regardless of your size, if you are a wine producer looking to seriously export your wines around the world then your success and failure will ultimately come down to how well connected you are with buyers. The key decision makers in the right channels of the target markets you need for your wines.
You might have wines at the price, the quality and the size of volumes you need to hit those markets, but unless you know the right people, the key buyers in those markets, then it's hard to get past Go on the international wine Monopoly board.
It's a factor that Guillaume Deglise, chief executive of Vinexpo, the global wine fair business, knows only too well from his previous life travelling the world looking to make contacts and build international exports whilst working with some of Champagne’s leading brands.
Which is why when he took on the role in 2014, for what appeared at the time the unenviable task of turning around Vinexpo, which by general consensus had more than started to lose its way, particularly at its flagship Bordeaux event, he realised the show had to get back to what it should be doing best. Namely creating the platform for wine producers and buyers to meet, network, and do business. Simple as that.
Vinexpo, for many, at least in Europe, had lost that crown to Prowein which was now seen as the show to do business at. Vinexpo, by comparison, was regarded as the place to be seen, to shake hands, to entertain. Which in a time when every penny, cent and rand counts double meant it was in danger of losing its purpose with busy international buyers.
Which is why it was fascinating to talk to Deglise this week in London, at a Vinexpo press briefing to look at global wine trends, about how he is working hard to put buyers back at the centre of everything it does as a business.
Networking is key
The biggest indication of that was arguably the introduction of “One to WIne” meetings at the 2015 show whereby exhibitors, producers and buyers interested in expanding their sales and distribution could be paired together to hold independent meetings.
The move proved such a success two years ago, when around 1,500 meetings were organised by Vinexpo over what was then a five day show, it is being repeated at this year’s event in June when Deglise hopes Vinexpo will be able to host over 2,000 such meetings.
Quite a formidable act of match making, and the opportunity for both buyers and producers to identify the type of markets and contacts they are keen to meet and leave it up to Vinexpo to bring them together.
Deglise says the goal is simply to bring potential business partners together, and is particularly useful for buyers looking to expand in to an unknown territory for the first time and for producers hoping to make contacts that are so hard to do during the normal workings of such a busy fair.
He says he expects it to be popular amongst buyers looking to explore the key Asian markets and with an estimated 27% of the expected 48,000 visitors coming from the Asian Pacific there is a lot of match making to be done.
Buyer and supplier partner
It is, though, very much part of Deglise’s wider strategy to make Vinexpo more than simply a trade fair. He wants it be seen as very much an independent “partner” of the international wine trade. Yes, it is a French business, but it is completely neutral in its approach and it wants to play its part in helping all markets grow.
This week’s trade briefing in London was a case in point, with Vinexpo teaming up with drinks analysts, IWSR, to present global wine and spirit predictions across red, white, rosé and sparkling wines and the major spirit categories between now and 2020.
It has also announced its Vinexpo Explorer programme which will act as a new networking and business network community for the top 100 wine buyers it identities around the world. Each year the top 100 buyers will be invited to attend special visits to up and coming and interesting wine regions and countries. The first of which is being held in Austria in September, with the promise of other similar trips to the likes of Sicily or the Margaret River in future years.
Deglise says that with such a changing and dynamic market place it is vital more steps are taken to help producers and buyers work closer together so that they can understand their needs better and work more efficiently together.
There is certainly a gap in the global market for a business of the scale and reputation of Vinexpo to step up to the mark. It is a need that is also close to VINEX’s own strategy of providing a platform that, on one hand, helps producers and buyers do business together, but also helps provide information and content that is valuable to everyone whatever side of the negotiating table you are.
We wish Vinexpo well in establishing new routes to market for both buyers and producers. If the last 12 months has taught us anything, it’s the fact that only by working more openly and together are wine producers and buyers going to have a chance of making the most of these disruptive and challenging times.