This week saw the long-anticipated US presidential election and the surprise victory of Donald Trump.
Now that might be enough of a surprise for one week, but there was something else that I found very interesting. Until the first, very close results were published, the polls and global opinion were very much in favour of Clinton. Then, disbelief, Trump was victorious. The interesting part for me, however, was that the day after the surprising result, very valid reasons came up for why the majority of Americans voted for Trump. The threatened middle-class, to name one. Whether you agree with these or not, they did explain the thinking behind the vote.
I am no political analyst, but it makes me think: perhaps if everyone was not so caught up in the sentiment and human right sensitivities of it all, the thinking that resulted in Trump receiving a majority of the votes would have been clear before the election and the result would not have been such a surprise. (To be fair, there were some insights, but not enough to change the expectations.)
This is true for our industry as well. Wine is a lovely and celebratory product, but there is also a lot of sentiment around it. And it is easy to understand. Winemakers regard the wine as their art, they put their souls into it. The owner invests money and time in a product he/she believes in. And there are personal tastes and agendas when it comes to packaging, marketing and developing an experience around the product.
What I learned from the US election, is that it can be very easy to focus so much on the sentimental things – how good the wine taste to you, the fact that it comes from top terroir, the belief in what you do – that sometimes you can be oblivious to what is quite clear to see: the market, consumer behaviour and trends. Research is readily available and experts can help with interpretation and analysis. But if you are all caught up in how special your product is and how much you like it, you might find yourself surprised when suddenly, the product is not performing as well as it used to.
I am all for being passionate about what you do and to believe in and enjoy your own product, but when you want to be successful outside your personal cellar or factory or farm, you need some outside perspective and critical insight!