Trish Barry, CEO and founder of Mastermind Consulting, shares her thoughts on the One Grape & Wine Sector Plan.
Our beloved wine sector has among it some inspiring minds – thoughtful yet strategic people with a finger on the pulse.
The recent Future Leaders cohort gathered with their mentors at Longview Vineyard in late 2023.
I witnessed many big issues being tackled in brainstorming sessions, with many great ideas shared.
I walked away full of optimism that the real challenges were being discussed with solutions posed – recognising that we need more than just a return to sales in China for there to be long-term industry success.
There are macro factors that will fundamentally change how we operate into the future and hard decisions to address issues like a change in consumer adoption of our products, climate change, suppliers looking for different product attributes, the need for restructuring to address an oversupply, and more diversity.
There’s an understanding that while it is one sector, our vast country has many different segments and needs.
The future needs to look different to how we operate today.
Having worked in strategic roles for over 20 years – the word strategy can be polarising.
But in essence, any great strategy needs to have a clear vision, measurable initiatives and, importantly, timelines around actions and prioritisation of spending around initiatives.
There was a hope that this One Grape and Wine Sector Plan would give a way forward and make a difference.
However, it’s a bunch of wordy motherhood statements – e.g. “will continue to seek to improve sustainability practices… and measures to mitigate our impact on the climate with the intent to support the vision of being a net-zero carbon emissions sector.”
Or “we will foster a customer-led approach in improving our understanding of and adaption to consumer preferences in our markets to tailor strategies and offerings.”
With so many different sectors of consumers buying wine with different needs, tastes and preference options, what does this, in reality, mean?
The three pages of a plan of action from pages 42-44 lack any sense of the next steps and ownership of what comes next with accountable timeframes.
We needed substance for the plan to have any impact – the devil is in the detail.
Our industry leaders’ role is to sell the vision and bring stakeholders along on the journey, but it’s hard to do this when there’s so much that is vague.
We’re in desperate times, and we need hard decisions to be made with the reality that business dynamics have evolved, and consumer preferences in the future will not have wine as a preferred beverage unless we radically rethink our approach.
At face value, it appears to have been authored by those with no industry understanding of the storm’s severity.
A waste of time and money?
Details now need to be provided around costs, allocation of resources and timelines for any confidence in the way forward.
When funds are finite and the greatest risk identified (Page 42) is that reduced levy income is extreme, what will be cut, and how can a plan be delivered?
This layer of detail shapes the direction of prioritisation, how and when goals can be executed, and by whom.
It’s difficult to provide feedback when so much is missing, and more questions are asked than answered.
Let’s hope that our brightest minds now rally and actively demand more than what has been delivered.
What a lost opportunity to bring the sector together as one…