By Roger Noujeim January 6, 2020 Comments Off on The Cost of Not Knowing – Cultivating Accurate Thinking In Wineries


72 percent of senior-executive respondents to a McKinsey survey said they thought bad strategic decisions either were about as frequent as good ones or were the prevailing norm in their organization.

In the wine business, things are unlikely to be different.

Precision in operating wineries is paramount. The challenge however is to ensure that accurate thinking is integral across the chain of command. Every department must be fact driven. Data driven. Else, mega opportunities are missed. Hidden losses drag growth and business risk spreads.

In conversation with David Bowman, EVP marketing at Jackson Family Wines, David shared with me important thoughts on precision. Specifically as it relates to the cost of a commercial miss.

“The soft and hard costs related to a failed national launch of a wine product are immense.  Inclusive of the product, sales and organizational effort, damaged gatekeeper relationships, etc., the real costs over time can range from the hundreds of thousands to the millions of dollars,” said David.

To underscore the value of accurate decision making, just to set up a new SKU would cost a larger scale winery around $100,000 dollars. Rich resources to cover the costs of legal and compliance, processing, sales organization, and integration into the company’s systems.

In relative terms, the impact on a smaller winery from just this step would be equally significant, if not more critical.

That said, considering the cost of a commercial miss should include all costs of a failure – not just the set up.

Here are some of the key areas successful wineries think about when making decisions:

  • Organizational and staff costs
  • Re-branding
  • Labeling
  • Lost marketing and advertising
  • Product dumping
  • Shipping
  • Re-stocking and warehousing
  • Re-launch
  • Sales and training efforts
  • Distributor and gatekeeper relationships
  • Customer lifetime value (CLV) opportunity
  • Brand goodwill and reputation

These risks can be reduced and better managed by cultivating a culture of accurate thinking. An organization where data based decisions are the Modus Operandi. Introducing, applying and mandating decision making processes and tools focused on a better understanding of the target consumer. Staying tuned in to the consumer, like the major consumer packaged goods giants have long done.

In a typical product or marketing meeting, a brand manager’s product or marketing recommendation, for example, would be consistently preceded by something like: “the majority of consumers we surveyed in the following markets confirm or indicate that …….”


A wine organization anchored in experience, success and wind in its sails, may at first be tempted to resist this kind of change. Teams are already far too busy to take on new things.

Your challenge now as a leader is to turn the thinking in your department and organization around. So your winery can begin to innovate with more precision and confidence. Chart new waters with runaway brands, more frequently. Deepen customer loyalty with existing brands, even more.

Benefits of Knowing


We are in the information age. Consumer sensory and attitudinal data is ample and available on-demand, just when your teams need it. The days of costly traditional consumer sensory research that also took weeks to generate answers, are over. Consuming the data has also become easier and quicker, with intuitive, self serve analytics virtually anyone can get answers from.

The cost of not knowing can be huge. With the right data at your fingertips in near real-time, the upside from accurate thinking can be the game changer for your winery.


Send an email to with the subject ‘Sensory Sample Report’, to receive your interactive analytics report so you too can experience the advanced information tomorrow’s wineries have access to today.

Roger Noujeim

Roger Noujeim


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