Raised in a family connected to making wine, João Pedro Montes soon understood there was a business opportunity in this traditional market where producers don’t speak the same language as consumers. While producers talk of technical characteristics and use specific jargon, like tannins, terroirs or ageing methods, consumers talk of moments, emotions and events.
So this was the first challenge Wine With Spirit – an award winning Portuguese wine producer and tech company and its chief executive João – had to face. How to get closer to thousands of wine consumers around the world. So it invested in extensive research, especially in ethnography, to study consumer needs and interests in wine before launching its own wines to the market.
This extensive study showed that:
- The majority of consumers are driven to consume wine based on moments or emotions (i.e. occasions or emotions linked to certain moments);
- More than 90% of consumers don’t base their buying decisions on the technical aspects of wine.
And so, Wine With Spirit came, with a dose of irreverence, to search for the perfect liquid for each and every moment of life. Unlike other wine producers, its wines are created from the market to the vineyard.
“First we identify consumer needs in terms of consumption moments/emotions (romantic dinner, meeting with friends, celebration…) and we create strong and easily identifiable brands. Only after that, our wine maker, Pedro Sereno, studies that information in order to create the right wine for the previously identified moment or emotion. That’s why we say that “we don’t produce wines, we produce bottled emotions” explains CEO João.
But it’s not easy to be disruptive in such a traditional market and Wine With Spirit had to fight against some more conservative minds.
Some months after the launch of its first “bottled emotion”, “Bastardo!”, there was an anonymous complaint to the Food and Economic Safety Authority in Portugal, claiming that the brand “Bastardo” was illegal, since it was the name of a grape variety and so misleading to the consumer.
Although the information in the label and counter-label of the wine was clear about the grape varieties used and “Bastardo” is a word that can have several meanings, the comnpany still had its stock of this brand blocked for sale for almost a month, with its largest market at the time, Poland, having its supply negatively affected.
Bearing in mind the huge damage this could do to a company, Wine With Spirit put all its resources behind overturning this and, against the odds, it managed to explain its point of view to the public bodies that were in charge of this decision, and they ended up supporting the company. Nevertheless, WWS was still instructed to change something on the brand’s name… so they gave it a “hat” creating “Bastardô!”. This is now its bestseller and is the mirror of the firm’s irreverence and non-conformism.
Later, as this ambitious project grew, Wine with Spirit decided to test the company’s presence in the large retail chains in order to increase sales but, after some tests in Portugal, it was clear that this was not the right way for its innovative wines. For example, there were several problems with pricing, product positioning and brand communication. “We were unable to control the prices our wines were sold, we did not manage to get noticed on the shelf since that would require major investments that we could not make, and we did not manage to control how our product was positioned, being sometimes targeted to a market segment that was not the right one for our wines.” explains Joao.
“Therefore, we decided that there should be another way to grow and, after several discussions and a lot of brainstorming, we created Lyfetaste, our digital distribution platform that lies on top of an intelligent algorithm and joins the power of e-commerce with affiliate marketing. It has proven to be a true alternative to the traditional retail chains, avoiding lack of differentiation on the shelf, controlling brand communication, changing the business profitability structure and increasing margins. Now, we finally have full control of what we do with our products and it is entirely our responsibility to do it right.
“It has been an arduous but truly challenging journey and we are sure several other challenges will cross our path in the future. But we will overcome them by keep on working with the same resolute and irreverent posture that took us here.”
Wine with Spirit is currently running an equity crowdfunding campaign on Seedrs to help fund its next stage of growth.
Seedrs campaign – https://www.seedrs.com/wine-with-spirit