So the story goes
Back in the 1960's the wine industry in Napa Valley was still largely in its infancy and had a long way to go to be competitive with France. Robert Mondavi, now considered the patriarch of Napa Valley, noticed an especially large discrepancy between Napa Valley and France: the popularity of a varietal called Sauvignon Blanc.
At the time, Sauvignon Blanc was quite popular in France, but in Napa it was dead last. Mondavi did some research on the name and the taste preferences of the US market.
Sauvignon Blancs in the States at the time were pretty sweet and were obviously not very appealing to the market, so Mondavi decided to make some changes. He moved away from the sweet flavor and instead created a crisp, dry style using the Sauvignon Blanc grape.
Along with the change in taste, he also made the decision to rebrand Sauvignon Blanc into the easier-to-pronounce Fumé Blanc. And he chose to not trademark the term Fumé Blanc; he wanted it to be part of the public domain so it could be available for anyone to use it, while also ensuring it could not be claimed and protected by anyone else. The industry embraced the new style and rebranding suggestion, and soon Fumé Blanc became a huge success in the U.S.
So why did Mondavi pass up on what seemed like such a huge personal opportunity? He knew that by doing so he would benefit all of his neighboring wineries in Napa Valley and an entire industry. He understood that a rising tide raises all ships.
And what's the point?
Rightfully, you are probably wondering what the point of this story is and why we're sharing it. Well, I think it is a powerful story that speaks to the idea that sometimes you need to be embracing your competition and actually working together rather than always fighting against one another.
We definitely see the need for this in our industry. The independent agency system is under attack and, some might even argue, facing extinction. While we agree it is under attack, we don't believe for a moment it's facing extinction. In fact, we believe the best days of the industry are still ahead, not by way of the status quo, but still ahead nonetheless.
In fact, we believe in this so strongly that we have built our entire business on this belief and focused it on this purpose - to save and strengthen the independent agency system. And, we're not alone; there are many other consultants out there with the same belief and purpose.
Do we compete for some of the same clients with these other consultants? Sure, at times. But it's a big industry and there is room for all of us. And, as much as any of us might like to be the only game in town, we know that isn't possible. In fact, it wouldn't even be good for the industry. The industry needs different ideas and different perspectives.
Yes, we believe coopetition is a legitimate word
So, what are we doing about it? We've decided to bring together a group of these industry consultants to discuss how we can create our own "Fumé Tide" for the independent agency system.
We have invited about a dozen of our "competitors" to a meeting in February with the sole purpose of sharing our individual perspectives on the future of the industry and to look at how, together, we might raise the tide for all of our agency clients.
Nobody will be sharing their trade secrets; we're just interested in various perspectives on how we can ensure that the insurance industry not only survives, but also finds new ways to thrive. If the industry can't survive, then it isn't likely any of us will either.
While the first meeting is set, we're not sure if it will be a one-time only event or maybe it will be something that we do on a regular basis. That's something the meeting itself will determine.
What about you, does the idea of a meeting organized in the spirit of "coopetition" make sense to you?
Photo by oatsy40.
Like this post? Subscribe to BGN Blog.