We headed to YFood's Food Tech Wednesday to learn about disruption in the wine industry.
This month’s guest speaker was Borough Wines founder Muriel Chatel, who explained the company’s evolution and discussed how brands can push for innovation in their own companies.
Borough Wines grew from wholesale beginnings to a footprint of eight shops across London with plans for further expansion. As a disruptor in the wine market, tech and innovation proved to be the difference for the brand. Research into micro breweries and their cask technology lead to development of an eco friendly cask wine that required less packaging and held more volume, all without sacrificing the quality of the product.
It’s this innovative character that has kept Borough Wines competitive without having to change who they are as a brand. They have the flexibility to evolve their business model time after time without re-inventing and devaluing their brand.
This, Muriel admits, is down to their innovation budget, something she believes every business should have to keep ahead of the competition: “If you can’t innovate you can’t breathe.” The focus on innovation allows the brand to explore, experiment and pilot new creative products and directions, such as pioneering bottle-less wine.
Another big focus for the brand is community building, as co-founder Corinna Pyke explained. When opening new stores, Borough Wines aims to be inclusive of the local community and sensitive to the brand’s part in the area’s gentrification. Instead of simply parachuting into a new location, the brand sets up shop in pre-existing community hubs and actively engages locals in a dialogue to build an offer they really want.
Corinna also emphasised the importance of Click & Collect as a community building tool. Personalised service is part of the charm of independent retailers and one of their most valuable assets that benefits from increased Click & Collect footfall. Through partnerships with other small businesses, from farm shops to boutiques, brands can build a mutually beneficial ‘Click & Collect community’ where each brand can tap into pre-existing emotional connections that other retailers have already established with customers.
It’s not hard to imagine that such a collaborative approach to retail could drive and increase footfall back onto the smaller high streets, injecting new life and sustainability into the bricks and mortar model in this digital age.
Images courtesy of Unsplash