Home Wine Business Editorial Expert Editorial Expert Editorial: Want to Win the Market? Build a Diverse Team

Expert Editorial: Want to Win the Market? Build a Diverse Team

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To win in a competitive market, your team should reflect your customer base. 

By Emily Xu

To attract and retain customers, you have to understand them. What makes them pick a red wine over a white wine? Why do certain varieties fly off shelves? How does the release of a new streaming show correlate to a spike in sales? Such questions can often perplex even the most advanced analytics team, unless they can connect with customers on a personal level, taking into account their lifestyles and experiences. To win in a competitive market, your team should reflect your customer base. 

Customer Insights from the Inside Out

For decades, the wine industry has been a male-dominated industry. And yet, the largest consumption group for wine is not men — it’s women. According to a 2021 Gallup study, women are three times more likely to choose wine as their drink of choice, while men opt for beer and spirits.

Despite women leading wine sales and consumption, 2022 industry research by Deloitte and Women of the Vine & Spirits found that, of female industry professionals surveyed, only 10% said they’ve noticed an increase in female representation in Beverage/Alcohol leadership over the past five years. For females working at distributors, it drops to 8%.

Due to the underrepresentation of women in leadership positions, the wine industry risks missing the mark with its largest customer segment. Brands may inadvertently overlook valuable insights, such as how women shop, their product preferences, what they value, etc. As a result, campaigns and products that don’t resonate with the target customers may lead to lost sales opportunities.

It’s essential to keep in mind that consumers are the catalyst of change, and they know their purchasing power. Consumers are putting their money where their mouth is, intentionally purchasing goods and services from brands that “get” them. Having a diverse team will help you gain relevant insights across all aspects of your brand — from product mix to packaging to distribution and marketing — for an experience that attracts your target audience. 

Representation Matters

As a woman in a leadership position, I have seen firsthand the advantages that come with having a diverse and inclusive team. When considering my current position, I was drawn to the fact that almost half of RDNC’s eCommerce department’s leadership was composed of women. Having a much more diverse leadership team can create a sense of belonging for women and minority groups, making it more appealing to attract a wider range of talented individuals as we continue to grow. 

The benefits of diversity extend beyond the hiring process. As we grow our eCommerce team, we’ve also gained a broader perspective on our customer behaviors and preferences.  It’s challenged us to rethink conventional approaches and do things differently. We were able to leverage some of the insights to develop new capabilities that clearly resonated with our customers.

Diversity as Your Competitive Advantage

With shelves lined with hundreds of options, savvy consumers will choose bottles based on more than placement and price. Brands driven by diverse teams have the power to capitalize on their natural insights and capture consumers in an authentic way. 

Adding diversity to your team is not an overnight process. It needs a holistic talent strategy. It needs to start from the existing leadership team and then trickle down to the rest of the organization. While our industry has worked to expand and elevate these issues, the work has just begun. There are also real opportunities and business values on the line. As brands invest in a high-quality, diversified workforce, they’ll better understand their end-users and build deeper connections.

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Emily Xu, RNDC
Emily Xu, RNDC

Emily Xu

Emily Xu is the senior vice president of e-commerce at Republic National Distributing Company (RNDC), one of the nation’s leading wholesale beverage alcohol distributors, specializing in wine and spirits. Xu is expediting innovation and expanding RNDC’s digital initiatives, including its dynamic e-commerce platform, eRNDC.

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