Chilean Wine

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REV: NOVEMBER 17, 2005


Export Strategy for a Chilean Winery
In November 2001, Patricio Middleton, CEO of Viña MontGras, a $7 million Chilean winery, was driving through the Colchagua Valley to meet American journalists from Wine Enthusiast magazine. Looking at the endless vines that surrounded him, he wondered how those newly planted grapes would find a market. Chile, the world’s 10th-largest wine producer, had enjoyed an export boom in the 1990s and had grown to become the fourth-largest wine exporter, its wines positioned mainly in the lower end of the fine-wines price range. (See Exhibit 1 for world wine production and exports, and Exhibit 2 for price ranges.) MontGras, an early 1990s winery born into this boom, tackled its business entirely from the perspective of export growth. However, the international context looked gloomy—there was projected worldwide and domestic overproduction, intensifying global competition, and ongoing consolidation in the distribution channels. Middleton had been charged with presenting to the next board meeting a five-year export strategy, consistent with the overall marketing strategy of positioning MontGras as a producer of high-quality fine wines (see Exhibit 3 for the MontGras portfolio). The winery had already achieved significant market share in Ireland and the United Kingdom, but it was focused on the United States as the key market to achieving the sales growth required by the increases in production planned by 2005. After two disappointing experiences with U.S. distributors, Middleton had little time left to close a new distribution agreement for 2002. He had initiated conversations with two potential distributors that had diverging views regarding the positioning of MontGras, and this raised fundamental strategic dilemmas. Should they focus on volume and stick to the “value for money” proposition that had underpinned the success of Chilean wines abroad, or should they advocate a margin strategy, based on the fact that MontGras was producing high-quality wine? The picture was complicated by an unanticipated offer to participate in a U.K. supermarket promotion that would certainly boost volumes, but at reduced margins. In addition, he had the opportunity to invest in a joint-marketing effort undertaken by the whole Chilean wine industry designed to upgrade the image of the country and its wines abroad. What would MontGras gain from such a campaign? How would it impact the marketing strategy and budget? Those were some of the questions that had to be answered before the company formulated the export strategy. ____________________________________________________________

Professors David Arnold and Howard Stevenson and Latin American Research Center Senior Researcher Alexandra de Royere prepared this case with the assistance of Professors Matko Koljatic and Andrés Ibáñez of Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. HBS cases are developed solely as the basis for class discussion. Certain data have been disguised. Cases are not intended to serve as endorsements, sources of primary data, or illustrations of effective or ineffective management. Copyright © 2002 President and Fellows of Harvard College. To order copies or request permission to reproduce materials, call 1-800-545-7685, write Harvard Business School Publishing, Boston, MA 02163, or go to No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, used in a spreadsheet, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise—without the permission of Harvard Business School.

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