The other members of the Orange River Cellars family converged from all corners last week.Indeed, it was marketing conference time in Upington, and the cellar’s marketers drove all the way from the Eastern Cape, Free State, Western Cape, Gauteng, Kwazulu-Natal and Namibia to address one of Orange River Cellars’ most important requirements: marketing and sales.

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Wine is firstly made in the vineyard. The gift of nature is then transformed into a diverse range of tasty products in the cellar by, of course, inventive and clever winemakers.

But even the best wine, with the prettiest label and made available at the best price, means absolutely nothing if there is no one who can get the product to the consumer.

This is a huge challenge in a country full of supermarkets and liquor stores, and every region is served by people who are not only tasked with getting Orange River Cellars wines onto the shelves, but also have to ensure that they fly from it. The price therefore has to be right. Attractive promotions and advertisements have to lure the buyer. And your relationship with the sometimes fickle retailer has to be exemplary and at all times respectable and polite.

It was pure pleasure to meet so many likeable people here who also have the necessary knowledge and personality to get Orange River Cellars’ wines into retail stores and keep them there through good relationships with the owners and managers. Enthusiastic. People who can think on their feet. Determined. And, most importantly, true ambassadors for our brand at all times.

Sales is not an easy job. And it is made even more difficult by the fact that competition in the wine market has never been more intense than now.

Just consider: there are approximately 7000 wine brands in South Africa. And the majority of these also want to be on the same store shelves and on wine lists of restaurants that Orange River Cellars is aspiring to be on or where we currently are. To keep your place in the market and to identify and utilise new opportunities is, as they say in the classics, not for the faint-hearted.

Yet Orange River Cellars is there, thanks to this formidable team of people who are forever promoting the wines, but also refuse to take no for the most part!

We had two days of brainstorming. Debate. Presentations were made. And the team also visited the cellars and vineyards to learn more about the origins of the wines, and to see first-hand what makes these products so special.
A welcome guest was Rico Basson from VinPro, the official industry body that represents wine producers. He made the trip to Upington to chat to the marketing team about the local and international wine market, challenges facing the industry and the plans VinPro is making with its members to expand the wine market to the benefit of all parties involved.

New packaging is something that is being considered. New brands. Perhaps a new type of wine? And new markets – in fact, this is where Orange River Cellars’ marketing manager Koos Visser and his team are making great strides on the international scene. Just before the marketing conference began a team of leading Chinese marketers was here, specially flown in to view the cellar and its products with the aim to get Orange River Cellars wines flowing in China.

Yes, there are many challenges. Times are tough for the consumer, which inevitably impacts on wine sales.
However if there is one thing about a marketing conference like this it is that afterwards everyone is more motivated than ever to tackle the bull by its horns. And that is how we build success.


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