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Digital archive of theses discussed at the University of Pisa


Thesis etd-12012021-110731

Thesis type
Tesi di dottorato di ricerca
Thesis title
What are the main strategies that make biodynamic wine farms in different markets competitive in the wine industry?
Academic discipline
Course of study
tutor Prof. Brunori, Gianluca
correlatore Prof.ssa Galli, Francesca
  • biodynamic wine market
  • business models
  • competitive advantage
  • green marketing
  • organic wine market
  • qualitative research
  • quality conventions
  • sustainability
Graduation session start date
The global competition in the wine sector constantly forces companies to seek ways to differentiate products and services to have a competitive advantage in the market. Themes involving innovation and sustainable practices are increasingly taking part of wineries environment and its marketing strategies. Among the considered sustainable agricultural practices (i.e., organic, integrated etc.) biodynamics is slowing standing out and increasing popularity despite of issues with blurred reputation, lack of consumer awareness, producers’ ability to communicate the standards and apparent higher costs compared to organic and conventional production. Based on literature review we built a framework that show the motivations that lead to the adoption of biodynamic practices and the possible burdens to its adoption, these factors interact with several elements of the territory (firm investments, conventions, factors endowment, terroir) that form a winery’s business environment, the further strategies, business models and practices that the winery pursue will influence performance and market recognition. The method was grounded in qualitative research within the Tuscan context, primary data was focused on a series of open-ended and focused interviews with biodynamic and organic producers (certified and self-declared), consultants, sommeliers, and experts of the sector, among interviews a case study was also conducted. The aim was to identify the main strategies taken by biodynamic wine farms to be competitive in the wine sector. The results showed that the implementation of biodynamic practices appears to be a long-term investment perhaps not for its financial performance, but for the longevity of the farm, and each farmer must interpret his own context for the best use of sustainable practices. The strategies that could enable biodynamic wine farms to compete in the wine market are focused on their vertical integration, their connection with the terroir strategy, the range of sales channels, the relationships and networking in the rural community, and their multi-functional production. Biodynamic farming can be part of a company's strategy to reach competitive advantage and bring market recognition, or even be the main element of the strategy of a "bio" district (i.e. Lucca Biodinamica). Although biodynamic practices are becoming increasingly popular, we believe that it will remain a niche given its strict standards and high degree of commitment. It could be a good strategy for wineries seeking a more multifunctional agricultural production, as well as for those located in generic territories (Terre di Pisa, Lucca Hills, etc.). The categorisation of the wineries into a spectrum of sustainable business models was built on qualitative data, and so it could not be accurate also due to the heterogeneity of the companies. Thus, the framework of sustainable entrepreneurship territory can be read differently depending on the company. Would be interesting, for future prospective, to check if the classification provided in this research would correspond to their actual performances and level of sustainability. Possible policy implications include defining the scope of what a policy would support, whether farmers in the territory that live trying to carry out to certain principles or a model of sustainable enterprise. This could have a wide-ranging result in scaling up sustainability initiatives in the wine business