Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wine Advertising should change!! Part 1

How many people think that Sport Supporters only drink beer and spirits? How many of you think that of rugby, soccer and cricket supporters?? If you do, then I disagree with all of you. The CEO down to a cleaner in a company all support sport and most of the times even the same team. They watch exactly the same match on TV and see the same advertisements or Ad-Scrolls in the stadium. So, in sport you do cover most LSM groups don’t you? The one thing that has been a great interest of mine has always been customer behaviour and brand recognition/building. Marketers get bombarded with magazine, websites, programs etc etc every week to advertise in their publications and how beneficial it will be for your brand because the publication targets LSM 8-10?? Personally I think it is mostly a waist of money.

Now think of this…what LSM’s support sport and let’s use rugby as an example? I honestly don’t think that it is just a certain LSM group and I don’t think that it you can quantify it that way. South Africa has seen first hand how sport can unite people, bring cultures together and break barriers that were almost impossible before. Did you also see the growth of black supporters in the stands at Loftus Versfeld after their Super 14 games in Soweto?? Did you see that for a VERY AFRIKAANS team and culture within the Bulls they have broken down walls that have been there before! Now they have built up a loyal and interested black supporters base that would never have been there if they didn’t take that opportunity to go to Soweto earlier this year. Whether you like the Bulls or not, they have done an amazing job and although the IRB and SARU keep talking about taking the game to the people, you can’t do any better than what the Bulls have done. They converted supporters!!!
What am I getting at? Well, why can’t the wine industry break down these barriers that we have surrounding us. Wine, the ultimate rich man’s drink, made for occasional drinking and not ‘partying’, a sophisticated drink for the discerning consumer. I say bull-dust!!! If the wine industry really wants to sell more wine, if they want to create a new market segment and grow a loyal customer base then we have to be more adventurous, climb out of our shell and make use of the opportunities that is right in front of us and go to “Soccer City”. (This is an example and I am not at all referring to the black diamonds/black market here, I am referring to it as the NON-Wine drinking public=”soccer city”)

We have so much to offer, more than the whisky’s and brandies of the world. In wine you have an offering of white and dry, off-dry, semi-sweet, natural sweet, red with all these tastes and on top of that even a sweet dessert wine!! Now correct me if I am wrong, but no brandy or whisky distiller has this offering?? You do or you don’t drink whisky, point! So what are our challenges? Make wine more accessible to the consumer, make it OK to drink wine at any occasion, make it OK to drink sweeter rather than drier and make it OK to put some ice in your red or white wine.
Any whisky brand has a young, easy drinking whisky that is made to enjoy with a mixer and ice, then they have a mid range, maybe a 5-10 year that is made to savour a bit more, but can still be mixed with water/soda and then for the connoisseur and real fundi of whisky they have the 20-30 year old whisky that only a small amount of people can buy and will enjoy. The majority of whisky drinkers buy the young cheaper style that they can enjoy every night and then for the special occasion they might open a very old one to have after a meal. The same goes for the brandy/cognac companies that has the same offering.

On the wine side we (the industry) have exactly the same offering: Our John B range for the consumer who drinks a glass every day, doesn’t want to spend to much but enjoys a good glass of wine. We have the Classic Estate Range that is enjoyed by people looking for something a bit more serious, still not too expensive but enjoyable on its own or with a meal. Then we round it off with our Special Select Range which is made in smaller quantities, made to age really well and aimed at the wine connoisseur and someone enjoying a rare and special wine. Can you see the similarity?? For the first time in many years you can buy two bottles of good quality wine for less than twelve beers. Isn’t this a wonderful opportunity for us? Now why do we always advertise wine as this really special product that should only be enjoyed at certain times and by people driving Jaguar’s?? The Spirit and Beer guys have done a sterling job in drawing consumers to their brands across the spectrum of what they have to offer. I really think that it is time for our wine marketers/advertising companies to open our eyes and start to be different, change people’s perception on how to enjoy wine. Don’t think out the box, think outside the glass!!!!

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  1. seems like some people are struggling to upload comments??

  2. Colyn,you did ask for comments, eh!

    I share your frustration with the issues that beset wine marketing, but let me also share some facts about US consumption that greatly impact wine “advertising.” First of all, of US adults, 70% don’t drink wine (43% don’t drink beverage alcohol and 27% confine themselves to spirits, beer, or both) so 70% of any advertising dollar is wasted. Then of the 30% that drink wine, 91% of the consumption, and presumably the purchasing, is done by 16% of the populations, the Core drinkers. (The 14% of Marginal drinkers likely do not actually buy wine but drink that provided by their Core drinker friends, so the money spent on those blokes is also down the drain.)

    Accordingly, from the get-go 84% of any US general advertising dollars is down the drain trying to get a message to actual wine drinkers who may buy your brand. It would be interesting to know what the comparable statistics are in South Africa; it may not be very different. If so, only Distell, KWV, and perhaps a very few others can subsidize conventional print, radio, or TV advertising efforts, and they may be kidding themselves on its effectiveness.

    Promotion, however, is a very different proposition. You aptly note the successful efforts of certain rugby clubs to recruit new fans from societal sectors previously not involved in the sport. In the case of getting more and new wine drinkers, I think the efforts need to be placed on getting people to visit the wine farms of a specific area, if not physically then at least visually and emotionally. Otherwise, you may promote wine drinking in general, but not that of your brand and your neighbors. (Ag, shame…)

  3. As you know, I first started coming to South Africa in 1994, and have made 26 trips over the years. Being in the CA wine industry as grower I had a much greater curiosity about visiting the various wine growing regions of the Cape than the typical tourist. However, I did not visit Robertson until my 4th trip, and then only because of an appointment at De Wetshof Estate; then not again for a number of years, even though we purchased a vineyard in 2000 in Breedekloof, on the east side of the mountains. My point is Robertson wine farms have to work far harder at getting tourists (as well as wine journalists) out to their neck of the woods, and that isn’t easy when there are hundreds of alternative wine farm options arrayed on the Stellenbosch side of the mountains. (This is no different in the San Francisco Bay Area: the “Wine Country” is generally accepted to be Napa and Sonoma Counties, both within a hour’s drive of San Francisco. Mendocino and Lake Counties, perhaps a second hour away, likely do not get 5% of the tourist trade of SoNapaNoma. “Why bother?” is the reaction of most tourists until they have several visits under their belts and then only a small number will adventure further afield.

    Utilizing video over the Internet may be the most cost effective way of inducing at least the first trip to more remote vineyard locations. I just viewed a pretty good effort by Twomey Cellars (owned by the Duncan family that also owns Silver Oak in Napa) and Google Earth: I’m not saying they have it all figured out, but it certainly is a decent start. Hopefully the wineries (and/or regions)that do the best video efforts will be noticed by the wine press and then there may be effective ancillary publicity without having to purchase display advertising.

    Lastly, your suggested “laddering up” wine buyers from a brand’s entry level wines at popular prices to better and higher priced wines is certainly logical, perhaps more for larger wine farms. (It also used to work for General Motors and other US car companies.) However, in the 1970’s Robert Mondavi Winery was nationally successful with top level ranges, and then reluctantly started producing less expensive wines. The entry level wines, “Bob Red and Bob White” as they were commonly known, became very successful and the financial backbone of a very large winery. So exactly how any given winery tries to play this game is up to them and their unique situation.