Popular Posts

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Marketing The New World and The Old

I recently put up some thoughts, here, on the New World and The Old and suggested that these days the difference is more of style than geographic origin. Another distinction between the two is in how the wines themselves are marketed.

Pick up a bottle of French wine at random and it is likely to have a picture of a chateau or some decorative script on the front.

By contrast, a New World wine will typically have a cleaner, simpler design on its label.

What has this got to do with the wine inside the bottle - well, everything and nothing; to a certain way of thinking, the label on the outside of a bottle has no relevance to the wine on the inside. And yet, when consumers look at rows of supermarket wines, shelf appeal is a factor in deciding which wines go into the trolley and which stay put.

If your signature says something about the person you are, then the label is the equivalent for wine - it can be traditional, funky, quirky, old-school, clean-and-modern, flowery or jokey.

And whilst there's no research that I'm aware of on the subject, it stands to reason that no-nonsense old-school people are in general probably more inclined to find a no-nonsense old school label appealing, whilst more modern types are perhaps more inclined towards edgier labels with more of a gastropubby feel.

And let us not forget the back label - a personal note from the wine-maker (perhaps mentioning that the wine was named after his new puppy) will create a sense of partnership and stakeholder engagement with the potential consumer in a way that a simple tasting note and food accompaniment suggestion will not.

Wine-judging competitions do away with these frivolities by serving the wine blind to experienced tasters who assess the wine on its merits as an example of the category for which it has been entered.

Wine competitions are not without their limitations, however, and winning an award can be just another part of the marketing mix.

After all, there are awards and there are awards; Decanter for example, has a range of accolades from commended, bronze, silver and gold medals to trophies (of which a wine can have more than one). So, the term "Decanter-awarded" covers quite a range of possible options and it is quite common for wines to be promoted as having "an award" without any immediately obvious indication of the level actually achieved.

Marketing is naturally the preserve of large corporations (think Unilever, Coca-Cola, McDonald's and the like). And whilst there is a place in the world for the reliable, standardised products these companies make, wine is more often an artisan product, frequently made by individuals on a small scale for whom any serious marketing activity is an unnecessary extravagance.

There do exist some large wine-making corporations - mainly in the New World - who churn out blended, standardised bulk wines and there is a place for these wines in the world too. It's just that the wine they churn out is a branded, mass product and not an artisan one.

Ultimately, I believe the world of wine will re-divide itself from Old World / new World into plonk, everyday wine and fine wine and that production of plonk will increase dramatically as interest in wine takes off in Anglo-Saxon countries, whilst prices for fine wine will rocket as interest from Asia and new billionaires, for example, expands with no corresponding increase in supply.

In the middle bracket of everyday wine, the difference will be that, compared to the Old-World / New World split of the 1970s, distinctions will be based on production methods, yields, terroir, scale and, yes, marketing methods - regardless of the hemisphere in which the wine is made.

However, smaller-scale wineries are increasingly finding ways to club together to engage in marketing activity through shared costs, without the huge overhead investment of a Foster's Group or a Gallo: Naked Wine's Angels scheme and the French Patrimoine des Terroirs are just two examples where marketing costs are being shared across of group of small independents.

In Naked's case, around 30,000 Angels invest a regular sum each month which the company uses to fund start-ups directly, thus cutting out several layers of middlemen.

Patrimoine des Terroirs, run by Alain Vautherot, is a group of around 30 independent French winegrowers who take a collegiate and standardised approach to marketing and distribution - i.e. paying only 1/30th of the cost of going it alone.

Other related articles
The New World vs The Old‏

On breadth vs depth in tasting‏

Building a taste memory


Naked Wines - http://www.nakedwines.com/

Patrimoine des Terroirs - http://patrimoinevin.canalblog.com/

No comments:

Post a Comment