The CMO Show:
Imogen Hayes on cultural storytelling

How do you approach marketing a brand within a category that has historically targeted a highly specific, singular demographic that is no longer solely relevant, and broaden its appeal to the diversified consumer profile of today and tomorrow?

According to Imogen Hayes, Global Marketing Manager at award-winning Australian wine producer Handpicked Wines and winner of the 2019 Women in Wine Awards, taking a creative and contemporary approach to brand and CX can reinvent an industry.

With a passion for good branding, evocative storytelling and making wine accessible to all, Imogen says understanding your consumers and uniting them with your product are core to effective brand storytelling.

“It’s really important to obviously build an emotional connection as a wine brand with a consumer because it’s such a kind of intangible, sensory product. So you need to build a full customer experience around the product to allow people to be educated and to connect with it on a deeper level,” says Imogen.  

Against the backdrop of Australia’s diverse and energetic wine scene, Imogen draws on her experience cultivating unique customer experiences through cultural partnerships at Handpicked Wines. The wine producer’s latest endeavour, partnering with Opera Australia, came about due to both brands finding mutual alignment in striving to create memorable experiences for their consumers.

“What I enjoy about the Opera Australia partnership is that they are truly collaborative. Our goals are very much aligned, and they are very open to creating new experiences for their stakeholders and their customers,” says Imogen. 

“Both of us wanted to create a more accessible experience for our products, whether it be wine and opera, as well as create luxury experiences for donors,” she says.

“There are so many stories and synergies between art and wine. If all you are going to do is exchange products and put a logo on something, there will not be a lot of return on investment. It has to be a collaborative partnership to make it work.” 

Tune into this episode of the CMO Show to find out how marketers in the wine industry deliver sensory customer experiences through cultural storytelling.

Resources

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The CMO Show production team

Producer – Charlotte Goodwin & Natalie Cupac

Audio Engineers – Daniel Marr & Tom Henderson

Got an idea for an upcoming episode or want to be a guest on The CMO Show? We’d love to hear from you: cmoshow@filteredmedia.com.au.

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Transcript

Host: Mark Jones

Guest: Imogen Hayes

Mark Jones:

As markets mature, a common challenge we face in marketing is the sea of sameness. How do you differentiate your brand when customers start thinking there’s no difference between you and the next company? We love to of course develop clever strategies and we can keep it theoretical and high level, but perhaps an even better approach is to do something different. Perhaps an even better approach is to do something different. Create a new experience, break the rules, try a new approach, test and learn. What’s a new thing you could do? 

Mark Jones:

Hello and welcome to the CMO Show. We are talking wine today. We’ll be talking with Imogen Hayes, the global marketing manager at Handpicked Wines. We’re talking storytelling, partnerships, customer experience, lots of fantastic insights to come from Imogen she is helping to shape the image globally for a company that is doing something quite different from the way that it works with different wine producers, with the different vineyards, all the way through to Cellar Door experiences in the cities. And also thinking export-wise, she’s creating stories and approaches for selling wines in North America and China in particular.

Mark Jones:

Some great insights to come here too from a cultural perspective. How we understand the different cultures and the way that they play into the sorts of experiences we should be creating. Here is Imogen Hayes, global marketing manager at Handpicked Wines.

Mark Jones:

Welcome back to the CMO Show, Mark Jones here. And my special guest today is Imogen Hayes. She’s global marketing manager at Handpicked Wines, and she’s a Queenslander.

Imogen Hayes:

I am. Apologies.

Mark Jones:

No, we love Queenslanders. 

Mark Jones:

On the show today I want to talk about wine because that’s important. I want to talk a bit about storytelling and I want to talk about partnerships. But before we get to all of that, on the subject of Queensland and you, what about your history? You’ve done some interesting things. 

Imogen Hayes:

I grew up in Brisbane, in inner city Brisbane, so super close to the city. Grew up going to a lot of gigs, putting on music gigs, really involved in the event scene. So that was what I was passionate about when I was young, but I was also really into food and wine. I was studying Mandarin in primary school and high school in Brisbane, which is good forward thinking of New Farm State School that I went to. And then at university I wanted to continue that connection with China and that education. I ended up moving to Hong Kong and I was looking for a comms marketing job and I randomly stumbled upon this job that was working for a master of wine. I ended up learning so much about wine at that time.

Imogen Hayes:

It was just when they had abolished the tax on alcohol in Hong Kong. So all of the super fancy first growth Bordeaux producers were entering Asia at that time. I had no idea about wine, no idea what was going on, but I was drinking $4,000 bottles of wine and eating instant noodles at night because I was pretty broke. That was kind of my foray into wine.

Mark Jones:

Yeah. I was going to say that’s quite a contrast, right? Great wine at work and then dodgy noodles at night. Hopefully that’s evened out over time. What was the thing that you discovered about wine, and what’s the key to marketing wine? What are people looking for?

Imogen Hayes:

Wine is an industry that everyone seems to fall into. You don’t decide at school, I’m going to go into the wine industry. Unless maybe your family run a legacy brand or your parents are wine makers or you grew up in Barossa Valley. It doesn’t really happen. So you tend to fall and stumble into it. Usually for everyone in the wine industry, there’s one wine that peaks your interest. You have this kind of wow moment where you’re like, “Oh my God.” Wine is so confusing and so challenging.

Mark Jones:

“Where’s pinot been all my life?” Is that what you mean or-

Imogen Hayes:

Exactly. For me, it was a 1921 bottle of Sauternes dessert wine in Hong Kong at that time in my first wine job. But the challenge for marketing wine, especially fine wine is it’s just such a confusing category for people. It’s such a challenging category for people to understand from an educational point of view. It’s incredibly technical and the wine industry don’t make it easy for consumers to understand the product. That’s the challenging point.

Mark Jones:

Why is that? Because the consumption of wine is not difficult.

Imogen Hayes:

No. Everybody loves wine, but who wants to sit there and talk about the soil profile of McLaren Vale versus Barossa Valley? Wine people do, but general consumers don’t. So I think in the fine wine space in particular, there’s been a lot of barriers to entry for consumers. Particularly female consumers as well because it’s been traditionally marketed to one specific demographic, which is an older male that collects wine for their seller and then bores their family talking about it at Christmas time.

Mark Jones:

Yeah. That is absolutely a cliche and it’s a terrible one. It’s interesting to me. You mentioned the demographics. I’m interested in the psychographics. What are the the feelings, the experiences, the underlying drivers about how you would choose wine and maybe how you see the world through that lens.

Imogen Hayes:

It’s really important to obviously build an emotional connection as a wine brand with a consumer because it’s such a kind of intangible, it’s a sensory product as well. So you need to build a full customer experience around the product to allow people to be educated and to connect with it on a deeper level. So taking people through the wine journey is super critical as well because everyone starts at the entry point. Maybe it’s that Moscato that you have when you’re 18 and progresses up. Maybe you’re drinking nice Pinot by 35, you’re collecting wine beyond that. So you really have to take consumers on that journey and break it down in a way that’s easy to digest. 

Mark Jones:

That is actually fascinating going back to Hong Kong I think it would have been fascinating to see the, the diversity of people there. The very high end buyers through to entry level. How do you move people through the levels? You talk about the journey, but it sounds to me that there should be some degree of understanding where our customers are at today and maybe where we’re trying to move them forward. What’s the insight that you’ve got there?

Imogen Hayes:

I guess people generally start on sweeter light style wines. So if you’re putting forward really tannic, bold, complex wines to a new pallet, it’s never going to convert somebody. So it definitely has to be a journey from a flavour profile point of view. I guess it’s similar to tea as well and coffee and even luxury foods. No one starts on foie gras and abalone, you need to start with fish fingers.

Mark Jones:

Yeah. I have actually met a couple of kids that have started that way. It’s all downhill.

Imogen Hayes:

It is.

Mark Jones:

The other part of it is branding and labels is a big key. Thinking about my own experience, you stand there in the bottle shop and you’ve got this sea of labels in front of you and price points. And there’s two things that strike me. One is the price, as I said, you hunt around what’s on sale. Don’t we all. Then you look at the, for me, where it comes from, because you think, well, I want to be a bit parochial perhaps. And then there’s the style or the imagery that they use. You can tell some of them are cartoons and stick figures of animals and dogs and trees and who knows what, through to classy simple like you don’t even know how cool we are kind of bottles. You know what I’m talking about?

Imogen Hayes:

Yeah. That you don’t even understand what the wine is, but you want it. And you want it because it looks cool.

Mark Jones:

Yeah. There’s like three words on the label and if you don’t know who we are, we don’t want you type stuff. The other thing I love about wine levels too, just while I’m on it, stars, stickers.. Like the cheaper the wine bottle, the more stars are all over it. Anyway, how do you think about that from a marketing perspective?

Imogen Hayes:

What’s interesting in retail now is consumer behaviour is shifting. Label artwork is becoming a lot more important than it was previously. Previously people were attracted to legacy brands with traditional labels. People were driven by regionality more so. You want to go in Australia in particular, you want single region, single varietal, so Barossa Valley Shiraz, Margaret river Chardonnay. That is shifting as well at the moment, and I think it’s definitely impacted by those smaller, trendier boutique producers that are defying the rules. They’re not following protocol, they’re using new regions, they’re blending different grape varieties together. And that as a result, they’re influencing the gatekeepers like Semilius because they’re telling a more authentic story as opposed to an FMCG style wine product that’s hammering the same message.

Mark Jones:

Yeah. Okay. Is this the wine version of boutique beers? What’s been going on in the beer market. Swinging back to obviously cans even.

Imogen Hayes:

Definitely. Yeah. There’s a lot of rules being broken. Australia’s always been an innovative place for wine because we haven’t had the traditional structure of, France has its epilation system. Italy has its control regulations. Australia hasn’t had that, so we have been able to be more innovative. And as you were saying, with little animals on labels, that’s what we call Critter Wines. Yellow Tail was really the brand that was able to break through and do incredibly well in the export market. And really spread the word of contemporary Australian wine for its time throughout the US and Asia. That spurred a whole bout of Critter Wines, which are now sitting at the cheaper end generally.

Mark Jones:

Is that a pejorative? It is. You’re not in Critter Wine. That’s good, I hadn’t heard that. Moving on then, as you’ve developed your strategy you’ve put out some news a little while ago talking about your partnership with Opera Australia. What was behind that?

Imogen Hayes:

I put together a cultural partnerships programme about three years ago with Handpicked with the focus being on building partnerships within art, theatre, fashion, and now Opera, which is great. The purpose being behind that we actually opened a direct to consumer venue in Chippendale. So we brought our cellar door to the city. The thing about Handpicked is we have a very large product range. So if you’re sitting in a retail shelf, you’re talking about this, it’s incredibly saturated market. One Handpicked wine on a shelf is never going to be able to tell our brand story in the way that we need to because we’re all about making best wines from best regions.

Imogen Hayes:

So we brought our Cellar Door to the city in order to build up a subscriber base and be able to offer a full product mix in store. The goal of our brand is to bring people on that wine journey. So you can try Barossa Shiraz, you can try Yarra Valley Chardonnay, you can try Tazzie Pinot and we produce all of those wines with three wine makers and own vineyards. It’s an educational brand. The role of the partnerships is to integrate and create more meaningful customer experiences around wine.

Mark Jones:

Then for those playing at home, avoiding confusion on exactly what Handpicked Wines is. You’re a wine maker, a distributor, a retailer, all the above.

Imogen Hayes:

We’re everything. We’re vertically integrated. It’s a challenging model, but it’s a very interesting one.

Mark Jones:

Why have you done that?

Imogen Hayes:

It was really our founder’s vision. He purchased the brand about 15 years ago, and at that time he was a wine consumer and he found wine very overwhelming. He thought, why isn’t there one brand that you can go to where if on the shelf you want to know, I want to try something from Margaret River, but I don’t know which brand to choose. There’s a quality assurance and you can say, okay, I’ll try Handpicked because I know everything.

Mark Jones:

Right. So are you like rent us Emilie? Is it like, I’ll trust these guys. They’ll pick something that maybe I’ll like. Is that the idea?

Imogen Hayes:

That’s the aim. Yeah. But we operate just like any other winery. We have a flagship vineyard in Mornington peninsula, then two vineyards in Yarra Valley, two in Tazzie and one in Barossa. So we’re really investing at the moment in cool climate premium sites. And the aim is to convert those sites to organic certification as well as the sustainability issue becomes more and more important and relevant for everyone.

Mark Jones:

Yeah.

Imogen Hayes:

So yeah, the partnerships play into that because also, we’re in the very premium end of the wine market. Most of the market plays below $20 and our portfolio starts at 25 and goes up to 400. So we are in quite a niche place within the Australian wine industry. And as I said, that traditional fine wine market has been marketed towards one specific demographic and we wanted to break out of that. So we are looking for avenues to reach a different type of consumer, and as well inbound tourists that impact our export market because 70% of our businesses export.

Mark Jones:

That’s very encouraging. Talking about Opera Australia then, presumably there are a lot of tourists.

Imogen Hayes:

That’s the idea. The Opera Australia are a fantastic partner because they’re the biggest arts organisation in Australia. They spend six months residency at the Opera House, so where else can you get a more iconic location in Sydney. What I really enjoy about the Opera Australia partnership is they are truly collaborative. I think that makes or breaks a lot of partnerships. Our goals are very much aligned so they’re very open to creating new experiences for their stakeholders and for their customers. And being innovative in terms of what’s outside of a contractual relationship as well.

Mark Jones:

What do you get out of it? How does it work? Are you looking to mingle with potential new customers? What’s the thinking for you?

Imogen Hayes:

One of our motivations is to build up our subscriber base for our Urban Cellar Door in Sydney. We’re actually launching an Urban Cellar Door in Melbourne at the end of this year as well. So of course database growth, getting new leads into the door to essentially Liquid 2 Lips. That’s what we need in wine.

Mark Jones:

I haven’t heard that one either. Very good.

Imogen Hayes:

In the premium wine space.

Mark Jones:

Yeah.

Imogen Hayes:

But who’s going to buy a $60 bottle of Pinot unless they’ve tasted it. If it’s not a legacy brand.

Mark Jones:

So you get to go to the opera and have some Handpicked. Is that the story?

Imogen Hayes:

Exactly. And then beyond that, what do we do? We brought the lead soprano down to the vineyards, we did some wine training with her. We’re looking at collaborative wine products as well. So can we release Opera and Handpicked wines, special Shiraz for Christmas or something like that that goes to the Opera Australia subscriber base. We’re looking at different content opportunities as well. There’s so many stories and synergies between art and wine. They’re both passion industries essentially. There’s a lot of hard work that goes on behind the scenes. There’re small margins in fine wine and in arts. So there’s a lot of different stories that can be told there. We’ve done a lot of live events before that focus around art and wine. So whether it’s an artist talking about their approach to their practice and then wine maker talking about their approach to wine making. That’s what we want to do with Opera Australia as well.

Mark Jones:

Okay. It’s a really interesting mix of customer experience real live events and some digital.

Imogen Hayes:

Yes.

Mark Jones:

You’re really trying to get everything at the same time, right?

Imogen Hayes:

Yeah.

Mark Jones:

When it came to choosing Opera Australia, what was your criteria and what could other people learn from how you approached that challenge?

Imogen Hayes:

Firstly, we need an aligned goal and an aligned demographic. And we share both of those things with Opera Australia. They want to create new experiences for their members, new contemporary experiences to bring people into opera. Because again, opera has the same problem that wine has. It’s kind of inaccessible. People think of it as this. It can be a stuffy industry from a consumer point of view in the way that wine is, but it’s actually a really interesting and fascinating experience. So both of us wanted to, I guess, create a more accessible experience for our products, whether it be wine and opera, as well as create luxury experiences for donors.

Mark Jones:

It’s all about finding that right fit.

Imogen Hayes:

Yeah, exactly. And just jelling with someone because you’ve got to work with them for two to three years. And if all you’re going to do is exchange product and put a logo on something, there’s probably not going to be a lot of return on investment for you as a business and your owners will start to question that. So it has to be a very collaborative partnership to make it work.

Mark Jones:

And I think you’d figure out pretty quickly if it’s working or not. Right?

Imogen Hayes:

Yes.

Mark Jones:

Experientially.

Imogen Hayes:

Yes.

Mark Jones:

You can see it on the night.

Imogen Hayes:

Yeah, definitely. You can obviously measure how many audience members you’re attracting back into your venue or back into purchase certain products from your brand. I just find the synergies and find … you want to do something that’s building brand equity. So you need to find a brand that has a great brand presence and a great audience and is offering great experiences.

Mark Jones:

Storytelling is obviously a big deal for me or for us, it’s one of our favourite topics. One of the reasons I wanted to chat with you because I’m interested to understand the history or the insights into why story is so fundamental to wine. And our experience of wine and how that holds together a partnership like this. How do you think about storytelling as it relates to wine? 

Imogen Hayes:

Wine is sensory. It’s evocative. Wine is an accompaniment to an occasion. So you need to create something around that in order for the customer to build an emotional connection. Because if I put 15 Pinots side by side and they’re all of good quality, taste is subjective as well. What is going to connect to build that brand loyalty? So we find by creating these really unique ways for people to taste wine, whether it’s we have an opera singer come in and do a 15 minute performance. And then we do a giant red wine tasting where everyone has to wear one colour or something like that. It’s those kinds of experiences that we find people really remember and really resonates. We’re not a legacy brand, and that’s what we’re competing with in Australia, so we have to build an identity as a contemporary fine wine producer.

Mark Jones:

You mentioned emotion there and I think that’s probably one of the biggest insights here. Because clearly stories that are emotive are the ones that we remember. They are the ones that have the biggest impact. So clearly opera is all about that and the arts, and so your approach to wine. I think that’s a really interesting thing. You almost can’t avoid that. By contrast, it would seem that the rest of them, there’s a big focus on dollar driven price point sort of stuff in the rest of the market, which is clearly lacking in emotion. Right? So how do you evolve the story? How do you take customers on the emotional journey? It seems like you’re very much tracking down that path of deeper and deeper customer experiences. How do you plan to evolve that over time?

Imogen Hayes:

It’s very much education driven and our Urban Cellar Door Handpicked experience concept as we call it. It’s an integral part in converting people into that experience, and then the journey follows online. Beyond that, through social and through the digital strategy and essentially hopefully longer term through subscription.

Mark Jones:

Yeah.

Imogen Hayes:

That’s the journey that we want to take people on. As I said, 70% of our market is export, so every market is different. In China, which is our largest market at the moment, you’re dealing with a more entry level wine audience in terms of knowledge. It’s where Australia was at 20 years ago, but it is growing much faster than Australia did. So the storytelling around wine needs to be positioned more for an emerging market as opposed to a more established market. So the stories need to be different. Obviously culturally, there’s things that connect differently on an emotive level.

Imogen Hayes:

China loves sentimental things and funny things and quirky things. So the storytelling needs to be adapted. Australia loves live fun drinking events that are interactive and don’t take wine too seriously. Especially for the female consumer where there’s lower confidence levels, but purchasing capacity and an interest in wine. So just making it accessible to people and demystifying it. Not making it stuffy, but still taking people on that educational journey so they will feel confident purchasing a $60 bottle of wine.

Mark Jones:

What’s your storytelling plan for overseas? In China in particular?

Imogen Hayes:

It’s very much around regionality because that’s core to our brand. Why does someone in Hubei province care what the difference is between Margaret River and Barossa? I have the same problem in the US at the moment. Most Americans haven’t visited Australia and the understanding of the regionality in our country is incredibly low because Australia is so diverse. There’s 70 different wine regions. So it is very much storytelling about place. How these places are different, how they look different, how that impacts the style of wine. And why Handpicked is really useful in the regionality tool is because we make, for example, Pinot from three different regions.

Imogen Hayes:

So you sit down, you tell that story, you benchmark those wines side by side and you say blind taste them. This is Yarra, this is Mornington, this is Tazzie, they all taste different. Same wine maker, a different region. And that’s when people start to really connect with regionality and understand it on a deeper level. So they’re the tools we use in the emerging markets, but the storytelling is tweak depending on where the market is at in terms of an understanding of Australian regionality. Depending on the market, the storytelling is tweaked.

Mark Jones:

Yeah. That’s fascinating to me because having lived in America, I can agree it’s basically one big giant country over there that we didn’t really know a lot about. And so when you start talking about regionality, that unlocks multiple stories over time. I can see that lasting for quite some time. How do you manage it remotely? You’re here in Sydney.

Imogen Hayes:

It’s challenging.

Mark Jones:

On planes a lot, or what’s going on?

Imogen Hayes:

Yes. Myself and the export director travel pretty frequently. We’re a small business that’s growing. We have two staff market managers in the US and one in Singapore, and we have a sister business in China. So yeah, there’s a fair amount of travel. We’re trying to do what we can online as well in terms of training and materials. Again, looking at things like podcasting, looking at live trainings with winemakers over Skype. Obviously in China there’s things like, you can’t Google, you can’t use Facebook. So all our content needs to be adapted to suit the Chinese market. US is so challenging for Australian wine because the US market got flooded at the cheaper end, and so Australia has been trying to reposition itself for the last couple of years and people are just starting to re-enter the market.

Imogen Hayes:

So it’s also about collaborating with wine region, with regional bodies and with other wineries as well. We’re very open to collaborating in all senses because it makes more sense for us to go, oh, let’s go with two other Yarra Valley producers into Chicago and tell the story of Yarra Valley as opposed to, let’s try and go in on our own because you’re just not going to get the cut through.

Mark Jones:

On the business challenges front, there’s two big things. Obviously the coronavirus will have an impact, and also I’m interested in counterfeit, which is a big issue in China. I know that you obviously have the global marketing role, but how are you thinking about how you position the brand in those two contexts?

Imogen Hayes:

So Coronavirus has definitely hit the duty free markets already, a lot. So that’s impacting a lot of Australian producers, and off the back of the bush fires, it’s probably going to be a tough year for everybody. The good thing is I guess in China for us, we’re going to readapt our strategy so that we focus more on online. People are still ordering online, Tmall, all those online shopping sites growing incredibly quickly for wine. And there’s a lot of opportunity for Australians because not a lot of people are developing brands on those platforms at the moment. So as I said, just bringing everything online to do what we can and continue the brand storytelling that way.

Imogen Hayes:

We also actually import the largest Chinese spirit brand, it’s called Maotai, and we distribute 1573, which is the Australian Open sponsor. That’s the other part of our business. We’ve found that our sales within Australia haven’t been impacted at the moment, which is really good. On the counterfeit level, the reason why I bring up Maotai is there’s a lot of counterfeit issues with Maotai within China because 

Imogen Hayes:

It is the biggest liquor brand in the world. It’s extremely premium, it sits at about $350 a bottle and it’s sold on allocation. We sell it through Dan Murphy’s and Vintage Sellers. We get an allocation for Australia every year and it pretty much sells out.

Mark Jones:

Wow.

Imogen Hayes:

It’s fantastic from a marketing point of view. It’s got the brand recognition in China that Vegemite does for Australians, but in a much more premium levels. So there’s massive counterfeit issues with that product, but exporting it, people tend to trust the export product more. So within Australia it’s quite good. For wine within China there’s more and more counterfeiting issues evolving. Obviously they impact larger brands like Penfolds, but there’s a lot of security measures being put into place. Maotai is a really great example. They have anti theft, anti tempering tech on all their bottles. They try and collect empty bottles as well so that people can’t refill stuff and they have really strict QCing. I think the wine industry will need to adapt that way longer term as well. And just knowing where your product is going in China, a lot of people tend to ship product in without thinking which consumers their product is actually ending up with.

Mark Jones:

Just understanding the whole supply chain.

Imogen Hayes:

Yes.

Mark Jones:

Right. Yeah, exactly. Which channels is it going through and do I know them and … I raise that because I think we’ve actually had some client experience in working with different organisations that are looking at that space. And I think some of those things actually become part of our challenges in marketing is to understand, what are people doing with this product? How do they perceive it? And if it is that premium thing that’s likely to get counterfeit, how do we incorporate that into our strategy? How we think about a true end to end business process. It’s fascinating to see how you’re dealing with that. What’s next? What’s on the horizon for Handpicked? You’ve got the operas running along nicely and you’ve got the global expansion. How are you thinking about developing and growing the brand?

Imogen Hayes:

The Melbourne Cellar Door is a key part in building the brand awareness for us in Australia. That plays into our export strategy as well because you need to be known in your home country. And the wine industry is, as I said, extremely saturated, especially at the fine wine and there’s not a lot of consumers that can name many fine wine brands outside the FMCG product makes.

Mark Jones:

Yeah.

Imogen Hayes:

So the goal is build up awareness through Melbourne Cellar Door, integrate those partnerships, create new live experiences for people to experience wine, and then replicate that strategy internationally as well. So we’ve been rolling out partnerships in China. Our sister company has a new partnership with Lang Lang, who’s the biggest classical pianist in the world, I believe, at the moment. So they integrate wine and piano, essentially replicating the strategy.

Mark Jones:

Yeah, right.

Imogen Hayes:

And then there’s longer term expansion hopes for the Handpicked Cellar Door concept as well. We also have a wholesale audience and sales reps on the road, and just growing the brand in the US is a focus for the next three years.

Mark Jones:

You mentioned growing your customer database. There’s obviously lots of competitors out there with subscription only and a long history of Australians buying boxes every month and parking them all in the garage.

Imogen Hayes:

Yeah, exactly.

Mark Jones:

How are you approaching that?

Imogen Hayes:

Our goal is to grow that wine club. We have what we call a passport members service within the Cellar Door. So the aim is essentially, try before you buy. Come in, select the wines that you want, get them delivered monthly, quarterly. We also deliver cheese in Sydney. So cheese and wine matching, creating those fun experiences around wine, get it delivered in three hours, have a picnic, have it in your office, have it at home. So just finding those kinds of nontraditional routes to market for wine delivery as well.

Mark Jones:

Yeah.

Imogen Hayes:

Yeah, and creating food and wine experiences. Food and wine matching is super critical.

Mark Jones:

For somebody who fell into the wine industry, it’s quite clear that you’ve really come a very long way. It’s really encouraging to hear how you’re able to deal with enormous complexity, not just in Australia but on a global scale. And even coming up with these innovative ideas like the Cellar Door, because who wants to travel out to the country. I do actually, but not all the time. Right? In order to get a wine.

Imogen Hayes:

Sometimes you don’t have the time.

Mark Jones:

I think that’s a really particularly clever idea. A lot of fantastic insights. Really great to have you on the show. Thank you so much and all the best with Handpicked Wines.

Imogen Hayes:

Thanks for having me.

Mark Jones:

That was Imogen Hayes, global marketing manager at Handpicked Wines. Fantastic to have her in the studio. The only thing we didn’t do, we realised in retrospect, was to drink some of her wine while we were doing the interview, but that’s as may be. A couple of insights from me. Firstly, regions. Thinking about regions where your product is made, that idea of providence. How can you develop some niche ideas for storytelling? How can you really drill down into the location in which a product was made, for example, or how your product is impacting people in different regions is a good one.

Mark Jones:

Also, the concept, of course, of emotions in storytelling. A great little quip of Liquid 2 Lips. How can you create those experiences and an emotional connection with your brand? And of course, the last one, speaking of little quips, Critter Wines, love that term. And the interesting application for that is, how can you play with the jargon in your industry? What can you do to understand the ideas, not just the humour, but the insights? What does it tell you about your audience, about your customers, when you start digging down into the jargon? What does it tell you about their behaviours and what they believe in? Some of the motivations that drive them to consume your product or to buy your services.

Mark Jones:

I hope you learned a lot from my conversation with Imogen today, and of course as always, it’s great to have your feedback. You can visit us on the web at thecmoshow.filteredmedia.com.au. We are available to be subscribed to. Thanks once again and we’ll see you next time.

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