We like to complain that wine has become commoditised, and that our worthy efforts to democratise it have been high-jacked by troublesome retailers.
In fact, this has largely been our own doing, too often ascribing a retail value to a wine even before the grapes are picked. To compound the problem, we then abjectly fail to manage supply. The result? A downward spiral that starts with the end offer price, and works backwards. In short, a race to the bottom.
The dialogue this week from the mining industry – without any sense of irony, here was the resource sector reminding us of the perils of a strong Australian dollar – confirmed that there will always be someone who can do it cheaper, faster, meaner than us. Always someone who can better scale, manage wages, waive rights or cut corners. Do we really believe if we strive to ‘over-deliver’ that someone, somewhere, isn’t being short-changed? (Gina Rinehart, are you sure that Africans are happy to be paid AUD$2/day?)
It is far harder – and far riskier – to maintain a price that reflects the honest cost of endeavour, and to think about best practice, purpose, design, story, truth and inheritance. What is now required is the courage to command that price, and, more importantly, the ability to defend it.
As Seth Godin memorably put it: ‘The trouble with a race to the bottom is that you might actually win.’
Let’s try a race to the top instead.