“Even the small things … will make a difference over a decade. But don't wait for somebody else to lead the way," said Rick Tigner, CEO, Jackson Family Wines, told the North Bay Business Journal's annual Wine Industry Conference.
It's crucially important for vintners to act because the industry faces significant headwinds. Consumers are getting mixed messages in the media and academia about the healthfulness of wine, and as of December all bottles destined for the European Union will require nutritional labels.
The ever-expanding number of U.S. vintners and wines vying for attention from the ever-consolidating number of wholesalers is a second headwind. Consumer recall of brand names is limited: 13 brand names for ages 21-34 (Older Gen Z and younger millennials); 16 for ages 34-55 (older millennials and younger Gen X) and 21 for those older than 55 (Gen X, boomers and the "silent generation."
“We're bypassing the distributor. We're going straight to the consumer with a relationship, whether it's marketing, social media communication, really trying to be authentic, because that's what consumers want to hear today,” Tigner said.
Jackson Family Wines is making further cuts in its carbon footprint. The company is transitioning to lighter-weight bottles for Kendall-Jackson and LaCrema brands, which account for about five-sixths of total production. Lighter weight bottles reduced the packaging footprint by 3%.
Its diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts focus on belonging. “How do we bring in employees who have diverse backgrounds and make them feel like they're a part of our family, not in the first year but on the first day, the first week, the first month, and then throughout their careers with us?” Tigner asked.
JFW has partnered with various retailers and with Republic National Distributing Co. to support various scholarship programs for students of color and for mentoring.