Here’s what they had to say:
“Painted Wolf became the first South African brand to secure two spots in the top 12 selection, chosen by Eddie McDougall, Hong Kong-based winemaker, columnist and host of The Flying Winemaker television series.
“The theme for October was South Africa Uncovered and Wosa extended the invitation to producers to submit 12 wines for consideration. In the end, 162 wines were sent through to Hong Kong. I am here to build on that momentum.”
“I must have sent more than 300 emails to set up meetings at the show. We are here to get an importer. We are flexible, willing to make wine to specifications for own brands and able to supply in bulk and bottle. Not many wine regions can rival South Africa when it comes to value for money and we view that as our competitive edge. It’s important that everyone first sells South Africa and then their own brand.”
“It’s important to realise that South Africa is really a small player in the bigger picture. Even if we doubled volumes, we are still a small player. Relationships are key and you need to be in the market to be successful.”
LEONARD VAN DER BERG
“Never underestimate the value of knowledge of the market and the culture of the people. I specialise in the Asian market and changing my name to Leo Berg on my business card already made a big difference! It’s shorter, easier to pronounce and now I’m known as Mountain Lion!
The Chinese importers and educators are very knowledgeable. I don’t necessarily see the dominance of France and Australia as too limiting – at least, in this jungle, they pioneered a road for wine, which we can now use.
As soon as you start highlighting the positives, South Africa is an easy sell. Use Table Mountain, mention our solid banking system, our impressive viticulture and oenology department at Stellenbosch University. Those are positive and pertinent attributes!”
A word from Wosa
Wosa’s marketing manager, Michaela Stander, relocated to Hong Kong in 2014 to establish their Asian offices. After a year of living there she highlights the following as key to collaborative success:
PULL IN THE SAME DIRECTION. It’s important to know what your strategy is and how that fits into the bigger picture of Wosa and South Africa. Mixed messages can be damaging.
DO YOUR RESEARCH. This is not a market to approach blindly. Proper research of the culture, regions and trends is crucial. Top families from Bordeaux are sending members of the next generation to live in Hong Kong. There is a very good reason for that.
FOLLOW UP. Sending a container to China and believing that this will grow the market organically is a fallacy. Follow-up is crucial. Relationships are a key part of South African brands that are successful here; their marketers and winemakers frequently visit and service the market.
* Edo attended the Hong Kong Wine & Spirits Fair as a guest of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council.