How we created an innovative wine business


João Pedro MontesHow do you disrupt a traditional sector like wine-making? João Pedro Montes, of Wine With Spirit, explains how he turned wine marketing on its head to create an innovative new brand

In an increasingly competitive market, companies need to understand their consumers' needs better than the consumers themselves. We based Wine with Spirit on exactly this premise; understanding and anticipating our customers' needs. We approach wine differently from the traditional producers.

Our research has shown that more than 90% of consumers don’t base their buying decisions on the technical aspects of wine. Instead they are driven to consume wine based on emotions or moments. But are wine producers considering this phenomenon when they approach the market?

We don’t believe they are - which is why we created Wine With Spirit. We’ve overcome many challenges but now we are one of the most innovative wineries in the world and the world’s first wine-tech company.

Listen to your market

Raised in a family connected to vineyards and wine-making, I soon realised that there was a business opportunity, a gap if you like, in the traditional marketing of wine. Producers insist on speaking about technical characteristics, using specific jargon, like tannins, terroirs or ageing methods; whereas consumers speak of moments, emotions and events.

We knew consumers were looking for easily identifiable brands and high quality wines for social occasions, so we decided to create 'bottled emotions', the perfect wine for each and every moment of life.

My advice therefore is to first, stop. Listen. Look. Pay attention. Study your market. What do consumers need? What are they asking for? Are they being given what they want and need? Is there a gap between what they want and what they are being offered? Find that gap - and you’ll be successful.

Fear nothing; be innovative

Don’t be afraid of taking risks. You won’t stand out from the crowd unless you do something different. Create your own strategy and stick to it. Dare to risk and trust your instinct. Lots of people will be happy to offer you advice, but our experience is that you should be wary of listening to too much advice and follow your gut.

In our case, it was clear a new communication strategy was needed in the wine market. We wanted to make the lives of consumers easier. We created the perfect blends to drink for specific occasions: for a romantic dinner we came up with Dine With Me Tonight; for a family barbecue, Meet & Meat; having fun with friends and laughing about the bastards you come across in life - it had to be Bastardô!.

Create your own model

We’ve proved that it is possible to be innovative and disruptive even in traditional markets. If you are starting a business, ask yourself how you intend your business to be innovative and different from the crowd. Are you producing a new ice cream flavour? A new model of a bike? A digital platform to sell or distribute a product or service? A machine to produce medicines faster? Create your own model - step outside the norm and push the boundaries in your market.

At Wine With Spirit, for instance, we knew we had to be innovative in the wine production process. Unlike other wine producers, we looked to the market for inspiration, identifying consumers' needs in terms of consumption moments and emotions (romantic dinner, meeting with friends, celebration). Then we came up with strong and easily identifiable brands before our winemaker, Pedro Sereno, went to the vineyard and created a great wine to meet the brief.

My three top tips

  • Write your idea down. No matter how innovative and disruptive your business plan is, it has no value until you write it down and make it real.
  • Develop your brand. Make sure it is reflected in every detail of your product. Remember that brand imagery and speech are as important as business plans. We created irreverent and provocative labels that stand out on the shelf and attract the attention of consumers.
  • Push the boundaries. Whatever you do, make sure it is taking you closer to achieving your goal. Run away from your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid of challenging the status quo. Dream big and push yourself hard.