Momo Essay

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Pathways To Wine Export Innovation: A Study of Romanian Winemakers Cheryl Nakata University of Illinois at Chicago, U.S.A., cnakat1@uic.edu Erin Antalis University of Illinois at Chicago, U.S.A., eantal2@uic.edu Purpose: Romania is one of the top fifteen wine-producing countries in the world, but much of its wine is sold and consumed domestically. Romania winemakers are seeking ways to innovate for export markets in order to gain sales and make inroads into the global wine arena. The purpose of this study is to determine the drivers and barriers to wine export innovation, so that winemakers are guided in creating new pathways to exporting and can increase the global demand for and competitiveness of their products. Method: Seven wine companies were visited in Romania in the major wine-producing regions, and a total of thirteen in-person interviews conducted with managers and owners. The companies ranged in sales revenue and ownership structure, reflecting the diversity of the industry. Five Romanian wine industry experts were interviewed for additional insights. Findings: Internal-to-the-firm factors driving the export innovation push include international market focus and a passion for excellence; external drivers include domestic sales declines, and an influx of foreigners to the industry. Counterbalancing are significant internal or firm-level barriers. Among these are self-referencing and low production economies. Challenges also come from outside the firms. Notable external barriers are a negative country image and an underdeveloped domestic wine market. Practical Implications: Recommendations are offered for firms to strengthen Romanian wine exports, such as using an innovation protocol, and developing products that incorporate native Romanian grapes. Following these pathways will better ensure Romania’s export success. Key words: Wine exports, marketing,

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