In July, I ran a series of training sessions across three countries

Japan

With JATCO – one at Haneda Airport and one at Narita Airport

Taiwan

Three training sessions with Everrich at Taoyuan Airport and Neuhu Downtown store and 2 sessions with Tasa Meng at Taoyuan Airport

Dubai

Two sessions with Dubai Duty Free

In total I trained and reached over 200 sales and promotion staff who work at the sharp end of the business, dealing daily with the real consumers and purchasers of our products.

Often I am talking to new promotors or doing training for the first time so introducing South African wines – which are still a fairly new category in many duty free shops, is very important.

The 2 hour sessions normally are structured as follows:

  1. Firstly, I introduce the country, South Africa – where it is geographically, its diversity though the people, culture, topography, climate, wildlife, nature etc..
  2. Secondly, in introduce South Africa as a wine producer, where it sits in the world of wine and what makes South African wine special;
  3. Thirdly I introduce the Wine producers (or Estates) from which the wines come and their unique characteristics, and
  4. Lastly we of course taste the wines!

Over the nine sessions we tasted approximately 20 different wines from the Estates of Avondale, Cederberg, Deetlefs, Ernie Els, Groot Constantia, Tamboerskloof, Napier and 88 Vineyards.

This was perfect as it allowed me to discuss and show wines from not only different makers, but different regions and varietals.

My view is that: if the sales and promotion staff at the airports understand your brand, are knowledgable about the product, know where it comes, how it is made and know the taste of your product, then they have more confidence to sell and promote it.

Judging by the continuous increase in sales, the increase in new listings, I would say this formula works well!

It’s a long term investment and training should not just be a one-off investment – you must continually invest your time in the people who are supporting your brand. So of course we will be back again and again to build the knowledge.

At Diverse Flavours we work on the following three ‘P’s’. Our philosophy for selling South African wines:

Patience, Perseverance, Passion.

The way this works in duty free is as follows:

  • To get your first listing you need to be extremely patient, and persevere and never give up.
  • When you get that listing you need to show everyone that you are passionate about your brands, and I think one of the best ways to do this is through the training of those staff that will ultimately be helping to decide whether your brand is a failure or success, and showing them support, and that you care about them, and your brand.
  • The promoters and sales staff are one of the key catalysts to sales and an in-store experience – and the one interaction as consumers we really truly remember – whether good or less good!

So our investment in training I believe is critical – hence I love to do the training with the sales staff and promoters – as you not only educate them but they really teach you a lot in return.

We must remember – they are as passionate about what they do as we are about our brands.