Small business: Collaborative marketing - Family of Twelve

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William Hoare, chairman, of the Family of Twelve talks about the story behind the marketing partnership between 12 NZ wineries, Kumeu River, Villa Maria, The Millton Vineyard, Craggy Range, Ata Rangi, Palliser Estate, Neudorf Vineyards, Nautilus Estate, Fromm Winery, Lawson’s Dry Hills, Pegasus Bay and Felton Road

The Family of Twelve group. Photo / Supplied
The Family of Twelve group. Photo / Supplied

Family of Twelve

New Zealand wine, today, has found itself on the world stage and that's where we want it to be. But we want it to be there by design, not accident. To be there because it's good,very good, great. And that is the common thread that binds the members of this family. We admire and strive for perfection, for that 'greatness'.

August 2003 saw the first round-tabling of the concept among a number of friendly competitors. Over the next eighteen months the constitution was formed.

It was agreed that the optimum number in the team would be twelve and the group would be carefully selected to give an overall snapshot of New Zealand, in terms of key regions, lead grape varieties, small to large producers. F12 Limited was launched in 2005, based on a charter/code of conduct with the agreement to be export focused.

Family of Twelve - a marketing initiative

The Family of Twelve is used to strike up interest in New Zealand wines. The domestic market is highly competitive with around 700 wineries, so virtually all New Zealand producers are dependent on export sales for growth. We saw a need for differentiation in a cluttered sector and we realised there is strength in numbers. Collaboration is more effective than going it alone, and reduces the overall marketing costs for individual wineries.

Events together

The Family of Twelve has both an inbound and outbound marketing programme. Our inbound visitors are key sommeliers, retailers and wine buyers, who tour New Zealand visiting each of the Family wineries. This gives each visitor a great overview of New Zealand, the wine regions and what we each individually do.

Our outbound marketing activities have covered San Francisco, New York, London, Dublin, Chicago, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Singapore, Hong Kong and most recently Prowein 2013 in Dusseldorf. These activities can include some or all F12 members, but wherever we go there is a real interest in competitors collaborating and working together.

The Family acknowledges the impact traditional and social media has on market presence in a global sense. Three years ago we employed a person for public relations and brand development. She assists with social media (Facebook and Twitter) and our website presence. This has been invaluable, as it provides one person who can consistently tell the Family story.

Outside of the tours, the Family of Twelve meets three times each year at a member winery. We host an annual viticultural day and we have workshops planned to collaborate and share information on export and OSH issues.

Response to the Family of Twelve

The great thing about the Family of Twelve is that when we come together we are quite a powerful group in the New Zealand wine industry, yet we are not like a big corporation. While we are all individuals, like all families we have a couple of crazy uncles and aunties. When we go places, people are attracted to us because our family is fun. This is a feeling that corporations can never achieve. People want to come and sit round our family table. The key to this is that when we travel, it is the principals of the wineries at the coal face, not the sales or marketing staff. This makes it a very personal experience, rather than just another 'me too' marketing exercise.

The business argument

The Family of Twelve definitely generates more business. If you travel to a market individually there is a lot of effort and organisation by your distributor to create interest in your visit. But when we travel as the Family, this on its own creates interest in the market and people tend to come to us independently.

Tips on marketing groups

For like-minded businesses in certain industries, more will be achieved, on a more cost effective basis through collaboration, than by attempting to take on the world alone. So take a look around, see if such entities exist and get together over a glass of one of the Family's great New Zealand wines to discuss the opportunity.


If you are a NZ business selling a product, chances are you have been exporting from the beginning. Tell us your stories of how you are reaching your international markets - is it through distributors or on the ground partners or online and direct? Tell us how you make it work for your business.

- NZ Herald

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