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What remains to be done

How to add value the wine brand

This point is very important for the marketing of wines and to the possible capitalization of ideas and wine projects. To learn how a wine brand can be enhanced is a constant challenge. Each economic operator will have to define the strategies to be followed for the development of his/her product; however, the strategies more recognized by the consumer are: the know-how, how to position the wines in the markets based on the trends, the power to tell the history of each wine, to communicate the history of culture, valuing tradition, professionalism, factors of differentiation and exclusivity (as the national grape varieties), and a network of wine tourism; and finally, through the consumer reviews and wine experts.

When I presented Portugal briefly I described a little of the history of our country and the production of wine. This history is an asset for the current wine brands and economic operators as it is the best way to express to consumers the "know-how" acquired for centuries and which has contributed to the creation of Portuguese wines culture. The traditions that exist in various regions, some of them unique in the world, such as Vinho Madeira (Madeira wine), must be transmitted and shared in order to assess the brand, the economic agent, the region and the country.

It is essential that producers meet the international markets, their positioning and consumer trends, in order the wines of different thresholds can be positioned in their segment and in countries where consumers want the same qualitative profile of wine. As an example, the case of wines produced in Portugal with Moscatel grapes. This style of wine has had a fairly large demand growth in the States market of the United States of America, and therefore it is essential to be aware of this market.

Equally important for the brand, the producer, the region or country, is the history adjacent to the wine. How many times have we heard interesting stories about the wines? This factor should be explored by all economic actors, because there are certainly many stories in each region that can and should be told to consumers to increase their interest in wine. The story/history works as the "hook" of attractiveness for the product. The story of a particular wine becomes more interesting for the consumer and easy to tell others than trying to communicate the sensory analysis of the wine itself. This kind of valuation of a wine brand is highly appreciated in markets like the United States of America, Canada, Russia and especially in Asian markets, whose connection to the continent assumes a prior knowledge of the country and its historical trajectory.

The professionalism of the economic agents is also a determining factor because in all phases of the wine sector - from production to marketing - we need a team with deep knowledge in their domain. There are, obviously, many professionals that start in this sector for a personal passion; however, their commitment and taste for the profession contribute to its success. The stake is to know how to capitalize these human resources by giving them the training and tools necessary to ensure that expertise.

Let's see the Oenologist: in Portugal there is only one institution of higher education to form Oenologists, and that is the University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro. Although it is a licence course which assigns value and recognition, the absence of an institution that authenticate those that may exercise the profession of Oenologist, creates the opportunity to many to become Oenologist in labelling, as often happens in small wine-producing holdings.

Let’s consider now the case of France. This is the only country that has an Oenologists Professional Order that recognizes the five French universities enabling to train professionals with the title of Oenologist. This method of professional certification adds value to French wines and, in some cases, gives Winemakers recognized the legitimacy of marketing the wines at prices above average. The creation of an Oenologists Professional Order in Portugal is therefore, in my opinion, crucial to the image of national wines.

There is in the Portuguese University system the ability to create a network of Oenology courses in the country, including in the archipelagos of Madeira and the Azores, where the wine-making wealth is huge. This network would make it possible to recognize graduates of several national and foreign universities and also validate professional experience acquired by professionals over the years and not recognised as higher education, a diploma of Portuguese winemaker, recognized by an Oenologists Professional Order.

Another strategy then entails the identification of differentiation factors of each wine, producer, region or country. For many consumers it can be interesting to know the details that mark the difference of a wine from another. This can help not only to memorize the brand but also to justify its value. In Portugal a few differentiating features are believed to be common; however, when observing it from another perspective, they are actually very different and unique. The association of different grape varieties to elaborate a wine is a good example at this level. This oenological practice is regarded as usual, but for other cultures it is quite distinct. Another factor is the ampelographic "treasure" in Portuguese vineyards that it is important to promote.

Despite being a country, both traditionally producer and wine consumer, we have a lot to learn from these "new countries" about the techniques and strategies of marketing and communication of the value/knowledge of wine. A very good practice applied by the latest countries in the production of wines is Wine Tourism. Its success depends solely on the ability of the economic operator to adapt its services and offer to the tourism reality.

For the consumer, a service of Wine Tourism is regarded as a prime opportunity to visit and contact the professionals. Knowledgeable consumers single out this type of contact to deepen their knowledge. For producers and economic operators, this service, when well exploited, has a huge marketing potential. It can make a difference in the history of the producer, the brand and its products, as well as the close relationship that is created between the producer and the consumer and commercial contacts that might arise from it. In the case of Alentejo and Douro regions, there are still features and scenic assets, which can promote the creation of a complex network of tasting rooms and of Wine Tourism. In the Douro region, rich in quality wines, a differentiator regarding its terroir and with a unique natural beauty, the Wine Tourism service improvement could mean a higher offer in terms of tourism, with the tourists to assume the role of ambassadors of the brands of wine of their choice.

In Alentejo, a region of little sharp orography, but with great historical heritage, the network of Wine Tourism can stimulate the attractiveness of the region by combining their vinous, historical and heritage offer. I foresee a huge potential in the creation of a network of wine tourism in the historic towns of Estremoz, Elvas and Évora. The historical monuments that built in the past the history of Portugal can now help to build the image of appreciation of wines from each region. If a wines consumer of South Korean origin is given the opportunity to taste national wines in the castle of Estremoz, certainly he/she will not forget the experience.

The opinions and criticisms of the wines specialized press are also determining factors in the choice of wines for consumers, whether at national and international levels. It is therefore essential that national wines represent themselves where the critics rate wines from all over the world. International criticism is today a very present reality, which takes significant marketing outlines that dictate immediate effects on the image of a particular brand. It is still essential to position the wines from certain critics, because the credibility and brand value is in everything related to the credibility of the critic.

All the means of valorisation that I mentioned earlier are related one another, and their combination can be a determining factor in the recognition of Portuguese wines. The work of the Vini Portugal, already mentioned, aims to help producers to unite themselves in order to achieve in capital value the appreciation of their products. However, it is the action of economic agents, producers or sellers, which impacts consumers and creates the image of quality that is due to them.
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