MW Topic of the Week: Generic/Regional Promotional Boards

Regional bodies have a wide range of groups they represent, have different reasons for existence, and different ways they operate. They also have varying levels of impact. This Paper 4 question from 2013 asks:

Assess the role and importance of generic bodies (such as Wines of Australia and Wines of Portugal).        

It asks candidates to look at the importance of bodies that represent a region and thus lots of different producers: examples from a variety of countries, how they developed historically, what they do, how they work, how effective they are, and what issues there might be. In analyzing their importance, candidates should look at a variety of markets, both mature and emerging, and consider whether or not there is any impact.

Examples of programming are important, but so is an understanding of budgets and ROI. Who do these bodies matter to? Where is there impact on the supply chain? What are effective examples of programming? Are there instances where they don’t make any sense? Importantly as well, how is impact measured?

  • This isn't a formal outline, but my initial response to this question:

    Generic bodies are organizations that unite producers regionally or stylistically* under key messages that apply to the majority of their constituents. Depending on the organization, it can be funded by mandatory taxes or joined voluntarily with a membership fee. For EU countries, generic bodies get their funds from "obligatory voluntary" contributions (i.e. mandatory taxes) from producers and are also partially subsidized by the EU itself. 

    Their role of involvement can vary. In all of the EU generic bodies that I know of, they provide the following functions: marketing support to develop awareness of the region through public relations, advertising, education, events, etc domestically and internationally; economic resources for the constituents and beyond by aggregating data on production, sales, and markets both established and emerging; technical support in terms of harvest dates, meeting AOC quality guidelines, research and development, etc. Others can be purely marketing focused. 

    Generally speaking, generic bodies will be governed by a board of producers who decide on focuses and strategy for all members. This is more formalized in the EU system; i.e. for CIVA (Wines of Alsace), there are set numbers of representatives from negociants, cooperatives and independent producers to ensure all interests are taken into account. 

    It is important to note that generic bodies primarily execute activities in their key markets, i.e. US, Canada, China, Japan, north/western Europe. 

    In terms of impact on the supply chain, a generic body can touch every aspect from the grape to the final consumer, especially if they are regulating harvest dates and AOC guidelines. For generic bodies that are focused primarily on marketing, they are interacting with the producers, sometimes importers, members of the trade and consumers, for the most part. 

    Impact is often measured by sales increase/decrease in volume and value, demand on producers exported, number of activations per year, number of trade/consumers engaged with sales figures during activations, number and impressions of articles and social media mentions achieved, website traffic. 

    *I say stylistically here of because Wines of Garnacha

    A brief SWOT for generic bodies, feel free to add to this:

    Strengths:

    • Distills a region down to digestible key messages that are practical and useful for trade when buying and selling wines and for consumers when making their selections
    • Provides structural support for small producers who may not be able to afford public relations, marketing, and/or research services on their own
    • Compiles data and market information that is helpful for producers in determining their brand and sales strategy

    Weaknesses:

    • Can gloss over the nuances of a region or alienate producers who do not fit into the bounding box of key messages
    • Oftentimes, larger producers tend to get more airplay because they contribute a higher amount of money to the pot, for obligatory voluntary contributions and sometimes for membership fees
    • Lack of communication can lead to the producer being too far removed from the generic body activities and unable to see the benefit of the organization
    • Often bureaucratic and difficult to adapt to modern modes of communication, trends, etc. 

    Opportunities:

    • Regular communication with producers on programming can lead to better confidence in the organization and more synergistic activities
    • Help in opening emerging markets outside of BRIC to create more sales opportunities for constituents
    • More flexibility to create marketing programs that resonate with today's consumer across current channels

    Threats:

    • Key messages aligning with the minority rather than majority
    • Fractioning and bureaucratic reorganization that makes the generic body confusing for its targets to understand (i.e. Rhône Valley Wines can only be called Rhône Valley Vineyards and under their marketing budget, Côtes du Rhône and various satellite appellations are all being promoted separately)

    I have examples for the following and would be happy to go into them at length if it is of interest:

    • Wines of Alsace
    • Bordeaux Wines
    • Rhône Valley Vineyards
    • Long Island Wine Country
    • Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance
  • this is excellent, thank you. I’d envisioned more as a pro/con argument but I think this presents a great holistic view. Your point about bureaucracy and naming conventions blurring the message is well taken. I also wonder if you’ve encountered messaging that is factually inaccurate? I recall a region with whom I did a media advertorial campaign changing what their benchmark varieties were for the US market because one of the grapes (Muscat) didn’t sell well here at the time.

    If you could go into the data portion more, that would be helpful. I know InterRhone does a lot of market analysis for example?

  • I also think generic bodies have the potential for changing industry norms, which is quite powerful. NZ Wine requires participating producers to be certified sustainable by Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand or via a third-party alternative such as organic, biodynamic, or ISO 14001.