Wine export - what is your opportunity?

A photo from my first trip selling wine in Hong Kong.

A photo from my first trip selling wine in Hong Kong.

When friends or clients ask me about exporting California wines, my first question is 'how well do you know your customer?"  When thinking through how promising your exporting opportunity can be, it is critical that you are honest with yourself and that you are specific in your analysis.  Opportunities to sell American wines around the globe are numerous.  Here are the key questions to ask before venturing into wine exporting:

  • Who is your customer?  Will you be selling to an importer, distributor, retailer, bar owner? Each of these types of players buy wine in very different ways and quantities.  Are their needs and buying cadence a good match for your plans to build a business?
  • Who is your customer’s customer (i.e. the drinker of the wine)? How large is this target market?  What type of relationships does your distributor/retailer/bar have with these end customers?  Is their business plan for reaching these consumers a compelling one?  The key in wine export is not the first deal but the subsequent deals.  One deal is a trade, but many deals is a viable business.  Make sure you have a reasonable expectation of repeat business
  • What are the growth prospects of this target segment that make up the end consumer? What does overall market growth look like?  Are there any regulatory trends that may help (i.e. Hong Kong import duties falling to 0% in 2008) or hurt (Chinese government austerity measures in 2012) the prospects of your chosen wine market?

If you can confidently check all of the boxes listed above, it’s time to think about how to find the perfect wine for your project.  In my next post, I will discuss wine sourcing considerations, and how to choose the perfect partner.  In the meantime, feel free to contact us with any questions!