Franciacorta Discovers How to Introduce Italian Sparkling Wine to the German Market

Steinbeis consultant helps entrepreneur with the launch of a niche product

What’s the best way to stage a successful market launch in Germany with a premium Italian sparkling wine that nobody has even heard of? This was the challenge Alexander Heinzelmann, the managing director of Delicatissimo, presented at a startup consultation session with Doris Deichselberger, director of Change Management and Business Coaching, the Steinbeis Consulting Center.

“Champagne’s a well-known way to welcome guests or celebrate a special occasion. But are there any alternatives I can surprise my guests or customers with?” This is a question Alexander Heinzelmann remembers well. He heard it from a business partner while on vacation in Italy in 2017 – when he first heard about Franciacorta. Franciacorta not only refers to the Italian province to the southwest of Lake Iseo in Lombardy, it’s also the name of a sparkling wine that is only produced in the region. Similar to Champagne, Franciacorta is also produced using bottle fermentation. After visiting a number of wineries, Heinzelmann discovered a small vineyard business called Bonfadini. The passion of the owners for their Franciacorta was palpable and a sense grew in Heinzelmann that he could enter into a partnership with the winery.

First, however, it would be necessary to analyze the target group in the German market and define a pricing strategy for entering the market. During the market analysis it soon became clear that more than 90% of all Franciacorta wine is consumed in Italy and basically no one has heard of Franciacorta in Germany. The possibility of offering a highly exclusive and premium niche product in Germany hardened after extremely good feedback during tasting sessions in Germany, encouraging Heinzelmann to talk about the idea in more detail with the Bonfadini winery. The main topics of discussion were contractual arrangements, exclusivity, usage rights for the logo, any existing marketing collateral, and a handful of other issues.

Once the target group had been defined, the emphasis of the consulting session with the Steinbeis startup advisor shifted toward topics relating to developing and positioning communication instruments. Aside from considering trade shows, it was important to look closely into identifying and reaching out to potential customers. The questions that were asked included: How can I differentiate my products from the competition? How and where can I reach my target group? How can I get my product as high as possible in Google rankings? How can I position the Franciacorta brand successfully in the German market?

Assistance from an experienced management consultant like Doris Deichselberger gave Heinzelmann an important helping hand in entering the market. “Aside from a whole string of pragmatic ideas that really focused on finding solutions, a variety of contacts were lined up from her networks, so the sessions with Ms. Deichselberger ensured that all key points were considered for lining up potential business. At the same time, I picked up tons of suggestions that were a real help during customer acquisition,” concludes Heinzelmann. “Not only that, having a third party make a critical assessment of your project makes things a lot better, and it makes you more confident as you get out of the starting blocks.”

Doris Deichselberger sees herself as someone who’s there to provide a helping hand as startups get off to a successful start. The expert knowledge of a startup consultant can be especially useful with issues relating to the very first steps of market entry. “Every business startup is different. It’s important to tailor advice to the individual project and each business founder,” says Deichselberger. She approaches the help she gives to business founders with a sense of enthusiasm, not only offering effective support but also working together with startups to work up a strategy in line with ambitions.


Doris Deichselberger
Steinbeis Consulting Center Change Management and Business Coaching (Stuttgart)

Alexander Heinzelmann