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Paul Schaafsma, European Sales and Marketing Director of Australian Vintage

Published:  07 July, 2011

McGuigan is the fastest growing global wine brand in the UK top 20 despite a 9% increase in its shelf price. McGuigan has experiencing 62% sales growth in the past 12 months with its sales now topping £65M. How?

Simple. Listen, don't dictate and get your head out of the sand.

here is no question that the UK is challenging market but it also fluid, dynamic and full of opportunity. The key to building a successful brand is to listen to the market - adapt your strategy and innovate to ensure you are delivering wines that are relevant and appropriate. Continually sense check your wine style, varieties and packaging to ensure your brand has the edge, and is delivering what retailers and consumers what now, not yesterday or 12 months ago.

As a supplier you need to be culturally appropriate, flexible in your approach, quick to respond and be a 'user-friendly' distributor who will listen, take on board feedback and not dictate terms. Brand owners with the attitude of 'my brand is king, this is what it is, it is a must stock and by the way, I'm increasing my price' will see sales decline and their brand become irrelevant.

Our retail partners are just that, partners. We share a common goal to deliver quality, value and consumer appropriate products across all price points.

You must ensure your brand is relevant to the consumers who buy it.

Ignore market trends at your peril. This is not a case of one-size fits all - the UK market is unique and complex, and as such you must be flexible, listen and willing to change.

The lifecycle of Australian wine in the UK is such that the market is looking for what is new from Australia, what is different and how we've evolved our wine styles to remain relevant and appropriate. Australia is a key category to every retailer - the challenge is to not rest on our laurels and continue to evolve, innovate and make wines that retailers want to list, and consumers want to drink. Quality and value for money across key price points is of utmost importance and more often than not the market looks to Australia to take the lead.

Wine is a trend, and constantly evolving - as a brand owner you must be at the forefront of these trends to ensure your brand remains relevant to the UK market otherwise you're dead in the water.

Paul Schaafsma is European sales and marketing director of Australian Vintage

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