Mar 18 2009

About USAPA, Leopard’s Leap and Hein

Published by at 11:41 am under Companies,Top Stories

I’ve been pushing the idea of “cooperative marketing” for the wine industry as a way of being more successful on the export markets. Read here.

With the recent establishment of USAPA, a body tasked to market Cape wine in the US, by about 100 wine farmers, the debate how to get the most marketing bang out of USAPA’s (rather limited) budget must be raging in the industry presently (hopefully!)

The “cooperative marketing” idea was my contribution to this debate. Today I’d like to follow it up with a practical example of how this could all work. But, first read my article on “cooperative marketing” – it gives the background. (Link above.) 

To my real-life example: We all know the international marketing success story which is Leopard’s Leap, the wine brand built by Hein Koegelenberg and Marius Kotze in just a few years, and now established in 30 countries. This must be the biggest marketing success story in the history of Cape wines – even bigger than anything the Distell, KWV or other wholesalers have created to date.

Some of you might differ. So, let me put it like this (so we can all agree): Leopard’s Leap is one of the biggest international success stories to date. 

Now, I would argue that Leopard’s Leap (with the people behind it) is the ideal candidate for a “cooperatively marketed brand”. In a way, it already is: Hein already buys in grapes from all over the winelands, to push up his volumes to levels where he can satisfy the demand in the 30 countries. Read here what he had to say about this. 

Currently, the farms (and farmers) from where he buys his grapes are not mentioned on the label. 

If Leopard’s Leap were to be a “cooperatively marketed brand” in the mould I see it, then Hein would not only buy grapes in and make it into wine on La Motte – he would also sign up “cooperation partners” (winemakers), who would make their wines as before in their own cellars – but label them Leopard’s Leap (standard front label). The back label would be a customised label (different for every winemaker), with the name of the winemaker, his farm and all the “wine of origin” information.

In other words, we would get a Leopard’s Leap made by Piet Pompies of Dronkfontein in the Swartland and a Leopard’s Leap made by Koos Doos of Koeksisterfontein in Durbanville on the wine store shelves here in Germany. And in big enough volumes to be on the shelves all year round (very important). 

And Hein and Marius would look after the exports – as they’ve done so expertly until now. 

Here are a few examples of things they’ve recently done to build awareness and sales of their brand:

* They linked the worlds of literature and wine by building close relationships with players in the publishing industry; 

* They linked wine and chocolate (under the supervision of Eugene van Zyl, Leopards Leap winemaker and Lindt, the big German chocolate manufacturer);

* They ventured into world of wine cocktails by joining forces with LiquidChefs, which developed a few delicious signature cocktails – from The Pink Lady to the Peppered Leopard, the cocktails are made with dashes of fruit juice, muddled fruit and lots of ice (shaken not stirred!) 

* Most recently they took Leopard’s Leap onto Egoli (M-Net). Marius secured the rights to use the Egoli logo on a 3-pack of wine – the profit to be donated to the Egoli initiative Food4All and Leopard’s Leap wines to be placed on the Egoli show “in tasteful contexts”.

All very original and difficult to top. In fact, instead of rediscovering the wheel, USAPA should simply “buy in” the marketing expertise of Hein and Marius and let them handle the whole US campaign. Selling the “cooperatively marketed brand” Leopard’s Leap AND a small number of other (US market-appropriate) “cooperatively marketed brands”, developed in cooperation with USAPA (and WOSA…but I know I’m stretching the limits of the “cooperation-ability” of the average Cape wine farmer now!) into the US. 

For the record: I don’t know Hein and Marius (spoken to Hein on the phone once in 2002) and wasn’t paid by anyone to write this.   

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