Growing Your Wine Brand in 2019
The wine industry exploded into the UK mainstream in the early ‘70s, with the first consumer-facing products like Blue Nun and Le Piat D’Or finding success by building brands driven by smart consumer insight and simple, relatable messaging.
Yet almost five decades later, most wine brands seem to be totally out of touch with their audience – particularly younger drinkers, who feel intimidated by the culture of pretence and tradition that lies at the heart of the category.
There’s therefore a huge opportunity for wine brands to attract modern consumers by fighting category norms and differentiating themselves in a homogenised marketplace by communicating in a way that is relevant to their audiences.
Here’s the Reprise point of view on how to present yourself as a wine brand in 2019.
Modern wine drinkers have a broad variety of choice. According to Nielsen, there were around 3,500 new wine products launched in US alone last year.
This means that buying wine is a daunting experience; especially as most choose their bottle within a couple of minutes once in store.
So it’s no surprise that consumers cite the label as one of the biggest influencers of their final decision.
It’s important to have an eye-catching label – bold logos, illustrations, unconventional layouts – anything to make your bottle stand out on the shelf.
Consider digital innovation to offer new ways for consumers to interact with your bottle such as the AR friendly bottles that 19 Crimes developed, allowing their consumers to engage to find out more about the brand.
It won’t be news to read that modern audiences are more health conscious than ever, and that as a result, they’re drinking less.
Although this means that consumers are now willing to spend more per bottle, it also suggests that drinkers would often prefer to buy wine in more sensible quantities.
To meet this need, Waitrose and Tesco have started stocking half-size bottles, and in the US, sales of canned wine has risen by around 40% over the last year.
This trend is also symptomatic of the general casualisation that consumers are looking for from the wine industry, with our research showing that actually, people want convenience and simplicity when consuming and choosing wine. The increase in sales of boxed wine, no longer seen as a signifier of bad quality, also speaks to this trend.
Therefore, modern wine brands should appeal to consumer needs by considering new ways to package their product. Cans, bottles, boxes, and even single serve pouches could offer consumers convenient ways to consume wine.
Wine brands have, for years, told the same, self-indulgent story: the awards they’ve won. Their family history. Their vineyards.
They bombard us with product-centric information to reinforce the quality of their wines, believing that more is more. But it’s not just about the product, it’s about the story behind it.
It’s no surprise that the top three wine brands in the UK have all reduced in value, whilst own-label alternatives have shot up: it’s because consumers generally favour unique, differentiated branded offerings instead of the homogenised majority.
19 Crimes in particular, the fastest growing wine brand in the US over the past three years, has built itself almost entirely off the back of a strong piece of storytelling, with its website talking not about the quality of the wine, but of the stories of the convicts that the wines represent.
Therefore, for a wine brand to cut through in 2019, it needs to have a unique story. What makes you different?
The wine industry has deep foundations in pretence and over-complication, and nowhere is this more evident than in the much-derided tasting notes that producers use to describe their products.
We analysed a dataset of 130k reviews and tasting notes, which include metadata for country, vineyard, rating, price, province and taster.
These were then filtered to show only reviews that contained a specific word, for example “palate”, and parsed through a word-tree algorithm. This aggregates all the common words and shows the linguistic structure of the reviews. With popular terms including ‘cigar box’ and ‘tannic palate’, it’s clear how confusing tasting notes can be for the average person.
Modern wine brands have recognised the necessity of simplifying tasting notes to empower consumers to be able to make more confident purchase decisions and increase the likelihood of them choosing their wine.
This need for simplification has been met by popular apps such as Vivino and Delectable, which aim to help consumers find out more about their bottle. For inspiration, we can also look to financial upstarts such as Monzo and Revolut who have disrupted their category not just with tech, but with a communications approach that translates an antiquated, confusing category and makes it palatable for a modern audience.
Our insights team built a review translator that, if you input a paragraph of tasting notes, will summarise it and make it easy to understand. Try it below:
Wine brands have traditionally been reliant upon physical sales, but that’s changing quickly. In 2017, online sales of alcoholic drinks increased by around 1/3 year on year, with wine accounting for 65% of that growth. What’s more, the UK has one of the highest levels of online wine purchase, with transactions accounting for around 10% of all off-trade wine sales.
Therefore, it’s important to consider digital behaviours, and have a plan for reaching consumers at every stage of their online journey – whether it’s driving engagement on social media, or having an e-commerce strategy to drive direct sales online.
Having a digital strategy not only ensures that you’ll be connecting with your audience where they’re spending their time, but it’ll also allow you to learn more about them and how they behave, enabling you to optimise your communications in the future.
Craft Beer brands have shown us how to really adapt to an audience and shake up the category. For them, connection and openness lies at the very heart of their proposition – whether that’s through Brewery events, product and artist collaborations, or festival partnerships.
Therefore there’s a huge opportunity for wine brands to attract modern consumers by fighting category norms and differentiating themselves in a homogenised marketplace, communicating in a way that is relevant to their audiences.
Written by Oli Flower, Strategy Manager at Reprise