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March 7, 2007
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Less is more as Woodward delivers on Fresh approach




Sue Woodward, business development director of Fresh RM, surprised the exhibitions establishment with a bold new approach to facilitating live marketing between the On-Trade (the wine and spirits industry term for establishments like restaurants, hotels, pubs and hospitality outlets that serve wine on their premises) and the wine producing supply chain. Based upon the fundamentals of “less visitors with more spend”, Woodward capitalised on nine months of research and a considerable infrastructure investment by Fresh RM, the joint venture partnership between Montgomery and Reed Exhibitions, which serves the B2B hospitality and food and drink sectors.

In comparison to the “mothers” of all wine trade events such as VinExpo or the London Wine Fair which deliver, exceptionally well, a mass market on an international scale, Fresh RM’s approach harnessed local On-Trade demand with international production and supply…where, they claim, it was needed.

The formula for this event was simple: identify a city or region where there is growth in the consumption of wine via On-Trade establishments coupled with fragmented, or poor, wine distribution, then deliver an intimate event where the proprietors or managers of those On-Trade establishments can meet the wine trade. Add edutainment and experiential elements to the exhibiting vendors, set within an exquisitely choreographed and replicable environment, and market the event towards the top, and most lucrative, end of the On-Trade sector within the selected city or region.

 


Discreet access to the bubbly stuff at London Wine+


The marketing for London Wine+ targetted the top sommeliers from London’s leading restaurants, food and beverage managers from five-star hotels, the pub and restaurant chain buyers and the contract catering elements of the hospitality sector. The exhibiting wine producers and distributors subsequently experienced a discreet audience with a disproportionately high degree of “spendability”.

However, unlike the typical exhibition, this wasn’t about visitor numbers. It was about identifying buyers within a specific catchment area with a supply and distribution shortfall, and enabling a solution to be realised via the assembled supply network under the Wine+ brand.

Expert opinion

Fresh RM also made sure to align its offering in a manner that would appeal to the elite among the buyers. This included trade celebrities such as Peter McCombie, master of wine, who helped present the knowledgeable face of Wine+ throughout the marketing and on-site elements to the show.

By targeting the head sommeliers, the F+B managers from the top hotels and the buyers from the pub and restaurant multiple operators, Woodward went for the areas that producers and distributors generate best volume and returns. Most importantly, however, is the research behind the local market and the subsequent confidence that the event is being staged where the demand for it is most apparent.

Fresh RM managing director, Andrew Evans, is keen to point out that a Birmingham Wine+, for example, would never deliver a return on investment for the producers because the distribution network is sewn up by four incumbents who are thoroughly integrated within the regional and city On-Trade.

"We can only deliver value where we can check the boxes that demonstrate a sizeable On-Trade, an ever increasing demand for wine, and a fragmented distribution network", he says.

 


Woodward - dishing up a local niche


Woodward continues: "London was the perfect springboard for Wine+. We targeted the Meridian area covering London and the Home Counties. There are 38,000 On-Trade establishments with surprisingly poor distribution, a significant chain buying community, in a market where consumption of wine continues to demonstrate spectacular growth. By targeting the relatively narrow band of those responsible for wine acquisition from within Whitbread to Marco Pierre-White, we were able to deliver a buying community responsible for hugely disproportional levels of spend. We now have the opportunity to cut and paste this solution and locate it where markets so demand.  We believe our shareholders and stakeholders alike will benefit hugely from the up front investments made by Fresh RM over the past 12 months in Wine+.”

Tasty opportunities
Those investments included edutainment at the event itself: a Business Clinic focused on the hard lessons of wine list compilation, management of the supply chain, and methods for increasing consumer wine sales; an Experience Theatre provided an opportunity to understand more about the harmonisation of selected wines and food (what goes with what); and a Tasting Theatre completed the opportunity to select and taste wines by variety, wines to be sold by the glass, dessert wines and champagne. Woodward also believes that these contextual elements will stand the test of a UK and global trip.

London Wine+ was impressive, not so much for the event itself as the fresh approach (pardon the pun) demonstrated by Woodward – an acknowledgement that the consumer drives the demand, and a media owner prepared to take the event to where that demand is proven to exist rather than pulling the demand to where it might not do so.

The next few months should reveal the intercontinental potential of Wine+.


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