Main Image

Q&A with Ben Smith, Corporate Communications, Concha y Toro UK

17/02/2017
Main Image

In 2016 Concha Y Toro won the Drinks Business “Drinks Company of the Year” award and was branded “Alcohol Supplier of the Year” at the Grocer Gold Awards.

We asked Ben Smith, in charge of Corporate Communications for Concha y Toro UK, how Concha Y Toro works so well with multiple grocers in the UK, his advice for growing a brand internationally and about his career in communications.

You achieved a BSc in mathematics, how did this lead to a career in communications in the wine industry?

Very circuitously! I studied Maths because it was a subject I enjoyed, but really I was always planning a career in music, which I duly followed for several years, playing bass guitar in various bands in the early 1990s. Later that decade I wandered into an Oddbins shop which was looking for part time staff – this led on to a full time role in their head office team which in turn led to marketing and communications. 

What are your key responsibilities covering Corporate communications?

Ensuring our brands and market strategies are well communicated in the trade, maintaining relationships with the industry’s many key institutions such as WSTA, WSET, The Benevolent, Drinkaware, and feeding back to our team in Chile on current goings-on in wine media in the UK. 

In 2016 Concha Y Toro won the Drinks Business “Drinks Company of the Year” award and was branded “Alcohol Supplier of the Year” at the Grocer Gold Awards. What strategy do you think led to this success?

We were delighted to win these two awards. The strategy we have followed is that of investing in our brands to deliver great value to wine shoppers, and partnering with our key customers to offer best in class customer service. 


Marcelo Papa, Winemaker, Concha y Toro

How important are industry awards? Do you think that they influence the consumer market?

I think recognition in your field is always important, and not just for external reasons – the team thrive on knowing they are doing a good job. Awards also help with recruiting top talent to the business. As far as the consumer is concerned, wine awards and positive reviews in consumer media have a greater influence than industry recognition. 

Much of the work done by WSET is made possible by the generous support of our benefactors. What motivated Concha Y Toro to support WSET as a silver Corporate Patron?

Across our business, from our head office in Chile to our offices around the world, Concha y Toro has always recognised the value of education in helping wine drinkers to navigate and enjoy the category, and to maintain wine’s profile in a busy drinks sector. WSET has been exemplary in its work and continues to go from strength to strength. There is so much synergy between Concha and WSET and we have been delighted to offer an outstanding Diploma candidate the chance to visit Chile each year as part of our patronage. These students are the future leaders of the world’s wine businesses! 

I think recognition in your field is always important, and not just for external reasons – the team thrive on knowing they are doing a good job.

 

How has Concha Y Toro managed to work so successfully with multiple grocers at a time when many are focussing on own label brands?

Most major wine retailers recognise that brands have an important role to play in building consumer confidence and reassurance in a crowded sector. There is room for established global brands like Casillero del Diablo as well as the grocers’ own well-researched and sourced examples from around the world. The other thing is we have never compromised on is quality, and  this reassures shoppers about Concha y Toro wine. 

What advice would you give to other marketing and comms professionals trying to grow their wine brands internationally?

It is a cliché in this business, but stories that resonate with consumers are what helps to build brands. The Casillero story is a great example – so many people who come across the wine are captured by the ‘devil in the cellar’ tale and it goes a long way to making our products stand out.