Innovation “SCREWED” The Wine Industry! What will it do to yours?

14 08 2013

glasses_wine_against_sunset

The sun sets on a warm summer evening.  You slide the chilled bottle of Kim Crawford Souvignon Blanc out of the ice bucket.  The sound of the bottle against the ice and the water dripping from its sides fills your ears. With towel in hand, you wipe the excess condensation away, creating the most perfect, romantic moment.  And now for the big finish!  You lift the corkscrew and raise it to the mouth of the bottle.  You crave that sound of the initial release as the cork breaks free and offers you the delicious, crisp liquid within.

“WHAT?  NO CORK?  A SCREW CAP?  YIKES!  My moment is ruined.”

No way!  In fact, you are on your way to an incredible evening. What just happened?

You experienced innovation within the wine industry, a process that took 45 years to evolve.  The Stelvin Screw Cap, by Amcor,  was developed in the late 1960’s yet had not penetrated the wine industry until recently.  In fact, the adoption rate in New Zealand was at a mere 1% in 2001.  By 2004, 70% of the wine out of this area was sealed with the Stelvin Screw Cap.

There were two issues.

  1. There were practical issues regarding quality control and the impact screw caps have on the product.
  2. There were damaging consumer perceptions of screw caps and the negative impact they have on the experiential value of wine.

INNOVATION’S IMPACT ON QUALITY

All concerns posed are real.  In order to move the innovation forward, testing must take place.  The supporters and detractors of the innovation must clear the air with regard to the facts.  In the end, if there remain concerns (real or perceived), those can be addressed and debated.  The less impact the innovation has on the original quality, the more likely it will be adopted.  Furthermore, there are many instances when the innovation improves the original quality of a product or process.  These facts must be explored and communicated throughout the industry.

CONSUMER’S PERCEPTION OF INNOVATION

What does the consumer think about the innovation?  Unfortunately, the answer to this question guides the impact the innovation will have on changing the industry.  Without consumer adoption, the market needs may be significantly limited.  The innovation may need a PR machine with the “right” supporters publicly pushing adoption.  Educating the public is also a strategic initiative.  By creating a wave of positive perception, the wave of demand will follow.  Breaking the perception barrier, if it is a factor, is clearly the key to success.

Eye-Cubed lessons abound within this story.

  • The atmosphere was ripe for inspiration
  • The industry had matured enough to be inspired for a change.
  • The issues “for” or “against” the innovation were addressed.
  • The plan to break the perception barrier was implemented.

Never pick a grape prematurely.  Never serve wine before its time.  And never underestimate the determination of an Eye-Cubed leader who has been inspired to innovate and brave enough to implement.

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4 responses

15 08 2013
nancymarg@yahoo.com

Yes, many times innovation does improve the original process. I love process improvement and simplifying complicated processes. Some times it is hard to get out of our own way especially with the way we currently do things. We get “caught up.” Asking questions, challenging the status quo and being open minded can lead to innovation. A must do in today’s business world.

Great article. Thanks,

15 08 2013
David Sussman

Thank you for your reaction. You are right. Challenges do abound when bringing innovation forward. We must have a concrete plan in place to move the dial.

15 08 2013
david k waltz

David,

I think the big driver for screw cap adoption was a cost move on the part of entrants (seems mostly Australian and Chilean) – they decided that there were enough non-snobby people who would accept it, and the wines they were selling were not targeted towards the upper-end segments anyway..

15 08 2013
Stan Sussman

There is nothing like removing the cork from a bottle of wine. Making things simple does not make a better product always. Drinking a good wine is not like drinking a coke. Is life getting to a point of reducing all actions to there simplest form ?

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