This post is about the WSET’s Business And Commercial Knowledge course, held last month in UK, that I had the pleasure to attend. Through the following 5 minutes read, I will try to highlight it’s advantages and whether it worth the time (and money) to participate.
It was during the Greek WSET branch graduation ceremony a year ago, when I was honoured to receive two scholarships related to the WSET Diploma studies. Owner and mastermind of WSPC, Mr Konstantinos Lazarakis MW announced to my excitement, that as a result for best overall performance during academic years 2017 & 2018, I was going to be able to travel to London and attend the BACK course. (while the second will be next week in Switzerland judging some of the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles 2019 wines)
But what is BACK course about? In theory, it’s a three-day extensive school, giving the opportunity to focus in real life logistics, marketing, communication and economics of various wine businesses with INSIDE industry leading commentators.
The course is held in a magnificent location, at Odney Club in Berkshire, just half an hour drive east of Heathrow airport. Simply the perfectly relaxing and inspiring location for a heavy studying schedule, beside river Thames.
The course was divided into nine segments, each of them presented by a leading insider of the UK market:
Global dynamics and challenges for a Producer: Some useful info to avoid an old joke: Q. How do you make a small fortune in the wine business? A. Start with a large one!
The UK consumer: Useful analytics and behaviour analysis. Are Millennials the driving force or not?
Branding: The full story behind the iHeart brand’s enormous success, given by the team branding leader.
The power of communication: Social media practices and trends
UK distribution channels: What are the costs and benefits (?) of different distribution solutions
The challenges the industry will face in the next 5 years: needless to say that Brexit was heavily discussed. Add some volume reduction and price increase trend, and you have a quite interesting sub-course
The financial implications – from grape to glass: My favourite part of the course. Very extensive insight from the operations manager of a leading importer of UK, taking into account all financial and logistics concerns of a viable business
The route to the consumer: General discussion round table with some MW’s and industry CEO’s
Wine – from the ground up: viticulture financial concerns, by probably the most admired vine consultant of the world. Where and why do we plant? What is the plan in a new vineyard?
Finally, a Case study presentation: If you believe that WSET will let you go without some serious case study done, you are right: they won’t!
All twenty participants were divided into four groups, assigned with a (rather extensive) case study to present to a “Group Of Directors” in just four hours time. My team had the opportunity to develop a southern France producer business plan, as well as branding and communication strategy, for entering the UK market.
Having my self the inspiration of the brand name based on the cooling wind of Languedoc Roussillon (Mistral) and the branding plan, i was very proud to listen to our judges announcing that we were the winners among the teams, awarded with an “Atlas Of Wine” copy signed by the authors.
Bottom line: if you aim to evolve in the wine business, grasping some of the know-how of numerous industry leading professionals, invest in time and around £1,585 and attend BACK course.
Totally worth it!