Overcoming the Challenges of Securing an Importer
There is no doubt that the US is a highly sought-after market for wine producers from around the world.
The main appeals are twofold: US wine consumers are open to trying wines from regions around the world; and these same consumers are willing to pay a premium for better-quality wine.
Much has been said about how difficult it is for wineries and wine regions to find importers that will embrace their products. Importers have many choices and are more risk adverse than ever. It is not uncommon for an importer to make a small commitment to a new brand and then rely on the producer to build the sales. If the brand doesn’t sell itself, the importer becomes less interested and moves on to the next brand opportunity.
In fact, this is such a common occurrence that there is a west coast retailer that sells in excess of $100 million annually of close-out wines that did not move in the marketplace.
One of the first and most difficult steps to maximizing your efforts when targeting the US is to connect with an importer that is best suited to your brand. This means the importer shares your vision for your brand and is open to helping you build your brand.
In the US, finding the right importer takes market expertise, industry knowledge, strong connections with market partners and time. Unfortunately, this task is daunting. Searching the Internet, sending out emails, cold calling companies or attending a trade tasting to connect with an importer usually only result in a loss of time and money.
Having spent over 30+ years each in sales and marketing for the wine industry, Chris Lynch and I have a comprehensive knowledge of key US importers. Based on our experience, we are able to profile potential importers to understand their portfolio strategies and gauge their interest in your brand. We also have strong relationships with decision-makers and a large network that gets us a response. As the president of Palmateer Consulting, I have led several searches for wineries and wine regions in which suitable importers were identified and secured, thus enabling my clients to successfully launch their brand(s) in the US.