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North Bay Business Journal

Monday, April 25, 2011, 8:13 am

‘Rubies in the Orchard,’ or in the vineyard

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    Could wine be the next thing Stewart and Lynda Resnick help take to even greater heights than it has already achieved?

    They have a long history of doing just that in everything from pistachios to bottled water to pomegranate juice to collectibles. Indeed, Mr. Resnick, who will be among the presenters at the Business Journal’s wine industry conference Thursday, has a track record of unlocking value in the companies he purchases under his Los Angeles-based Roll Global.

    So what does his recent acquisition of Justin Vineyards and Winery near Paso Robles portend?

    “Rubies in the Orchard,” the 2009 book by his wife, Lynda, the marketing guru and creator of the wildly successful POM Wonderful pomegranate juice and other products, provides some clues.

    The first thing to know about “Rubies in the Orchard” is that it is not your typical marketing tome. It is a book about unlocking real value and then delivering it consistently and with a high level of intensity.

    A recurring theme through “Rubies in the Orchard” is that, while “thinking outside the box” is catchy, for most of us it is better to think deeply about what’s inside whatever box we create.

    That was Ms. Resnick’s unrelenting focus with POM Wonderful where she resisted the typical marketing advice to water down a unique fruit juice that studies have shown, get this, has more antioxidants than red wine and has hundreds, even thousands, of years of history touting its health benefits.

    Ms. Resnick devotion to staying “inside the box” was tested one year when a poor pomegranate crop (ever heard of that in wine?) left stores and consumers starved for POM.

    What looked like a miracle appeared in the form of a shipload of Iranian juice. It was tempting to take it, but she and her colleagues ultimately rejected it because they could not be certain the juice met their standards for purity and quality.

    The Resnicks did something similar with Fiji Water, taking a struggling brand in a crowded market and making it a standout.

    At Teleflora, Ms. Resnick found a distant No. 2 to FTD. It’s now bigger than that iconic company. How was it done? But focusing “inside the box” and coming upon the insight that flowers are there for a few days and are gone. Consumers, consequently, had no memory to keep behind.

    Ms. Resnick’s innovation was to develop a series of vases in which flowers were delivered. The flowers came and went, but the vase was left behind. The innovation also gave those who purchased flowers for someone else an idea of the final product that was delivered.

    Mr. Resnick’s final advice: “Cultivate the rubies in the orchard. Locate the intrinsic value of your brand, work to understand it and nurture it. … Communicate that value honestly and creatively. If you do, you will build the kind of faith in your brand that can overcome tough competition, hard times, cheap shots, and even a roller coaster of a new century.”

    The Resnicks made this work for pomegranates and bottled water. Now, they join many others past and present in bringing that vision to wine.

    •••

    Brad Bollinger is Business Journal editor in chief and associate publisher. He can be reached at 707-521-4251 or bbollinger@busjrnl.com.

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