Specialisation vs. Diversification: how to differentiate in a crowded wine market?

13th May 2024

In a market where every bottle tells a story of terroir, craftsmanship, and culture, wine merchants face a pressing question: how do you stand out amidst a sea of competitors? 

In recent months, we’ve observed notable success among wine merchants we collaborate with, particularly in two categories: the ones who chose to specialise principally in one wine region, and, on the other hand, those who have built a highly diversified portfolio of wines and spirits.


By focusing exclusively on a specific region, you can position yourself as an authority, offering customers a highly curated selection. Specialisation allows you to showcase not only classic names but also up and coming producers, attracting aficionados who seek deep knowledge.

When buyers know they can rely on a merchant for expert guidance and a discerning selection of wines from a particular region, they are more likely to return for future purchases and recommend others.

Focus also opens doors to partnerships with wineries and opportunities for exclusive offerings.

Specialisation also comes with its challenges.

By limiting your focus to a single region, you may miss out on the diverse preferences of your client base, whether simply drinkers or collectors too. Where consumers may appreciate the depth of a specialised selection, others may crave variety and exploration, seeking wines from different regions.

Wine regions can fall in and out of favour, due typically to relative pricing or accessibility of allocations, especially when weather events produce small harvests. Putting all your eggs into one basket can put a business in a position of risk, whereas a more varied portfolio will even out sales volatility.


Diversification offers the opportunity to broaden your appeal and cater to a wider range of tastes and preferences. By expanding your offering to include not only multiple wine regions but also spirits broadens your appeal to a wider audience, through positioning the business as a specialty drinks business that’s a one-stop shop. Since margins on spirits are generally healthier than wine, spirits bolster the bottom line.

Diversification provides your business with flexibility and adaptability in a dynamic market. With spirits experiencing a surge in popularity in recent years, you can tap into new revenue streams and capitalise on emerging trends.

Diversification mitigates the risk of market saturation and competition. In a crowded wine market, stay ahead of the curve and remain relevant in an ever-evolving landscape by continuously refreshing your offerings and staying attuned to consumer preferences.

Just like specialisation, diversification is not without its challenges.

Managing a diverse portfolio of products can tie up significant working capital in stock, with hard to predict average turnover ratios or inventory days on hand (the number of days it takes to turnover a stock position) across the portfolio.

Other considerations are staff training and marketing strategies to effectively communicate the portfolio proposition to customers. Diversification risks diluting expertise in the eyes of consumers who seek depth of knowledge. Balancing diversification with the risks and complexities it entails requires a disciplined approach to buying, more supporting content, the need for hand-selling and a keen understanding of market dynamics.

In the bustling wine market, specialisation offers depth, authenticity and loyalty, while diversification promises versatility, greater share of wallet and broader appeal. 

Ultimately, your strategy choice depends on vision, nature of intended target audiences and the competitive landscape around each addressable market (consumer and trade). 

Whether you choose to become masters of a single region or shape a diverse portfolio, you are navigating a crowded market with creativity, passion, and a commitment to excellence.

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