A discussion about branding is generally not a conversation anticipated with excitement. If you’re a marketing type it can be characterized as maybe interesting. But, promising most people an indepth discussion on the subject of wine branding; heck, we might have no one accepting an invitation to our dinner party. In reality, creating a brand image for wineries and wines can help the consumer to be smart buyers.
Because margins can be small for producers and a perponderance of producers are small, small margins impact the small producer profoundly. Branding can be expensive. So what can be done to entice consumers to try a brand they have never heard of before? Now we are talking about branding and it can be risky, even with great planning. Further, it is a lot of compromising.
What impact did branding have on the last bottle of wine you bought? Did you buy that wine because you knew some enticing fact about the winery, winemaker or their wine making processes? Did you buy a wine based upon a friend’s recommendation because they knew your preference for a certain varietal? Have your preferences for a wine changed over the past few years? Do you buy your wine based upon a random trial and found you liked that particular wine? Whatever the process you went through in buying a wine you have been impacted, to some degree, by branding. If you simply selected a wine based upon its price or label design, branding was involved.
Recently, I have had discussions concerning the process of business branding from a corporate perspective and a product perspective. Most of the emphases of these discussions have been specific to the value of branding a winery and their wines; predominately with small producers. Like most everything in business, decisions are generally based upon compromises in budgets, approach, etc. Obviously, the product of a winery is bottles of various varietal wines which are a disposable product that is consumed based upon ever changing sensory perceptions–mostly taste. I submit that the juxtaposition in branding a winery and their products makes this discussion difficult. For example, many wines I like and buy frequently, I don’t even know who produces them. Further, winery brands I recognize, some of their wines I don’t like for various subjective reasons.
Point being, in most branding discussions relating to the wine industry become convoluted. Wineries produce multiple labels and these labels are subjected to consumer reviews that are based on innumerable personal influences. With so many variables, the task of presenting a positive image about a corporate winery brand is difficult.
We all are influenced by branding to some degree, even minimally. For example, a few years ago Tide was going to stop sponsoring NASCAR races. Surprisingly, they found that Tide had a rabid and loyal following with female NASCAR fans and Tide is still a sponsor. The brand had made a commitment and now wanted to change it.
Another example of branding impact is Schlitz beer. In the late 1960’s Schlitz decided to change their formula for brewing their beer. Immediately they went from a premier label, ahead of Budweiser, to being virtually extinct. In 2008, they went back to their original formula of the 1960’s, but the damage to a great brand was permanent.
These examples of powerful brands are obvious. In the case of Schlitz it shows how fragile a brand can be if the consumer is betrayed. However, wine is not a mass market product (like beer) that is as ubiquitous as beer or a laundry https://exycasinos.co.nz/mobile-casino/ detergent. Compared to wine, consumers do not build beer cellars in their home and collect beer. So, wine is a very unique product that is expensive to brand on a per customer basis (this is especially true when consumers understand the discounting needed for distributors to sell and promote a label (discounting is part of the branding strategy).
The demographics for the wine market are broken down into 5 segments with some under 21 years old in the millennial category. This is according to a Wines and Vines Newsletter. The largest segment of wine drinkers are the millennia’s and Generation xers making up 70% of the 5 market segments (Baby Boomers included). Wine Business Monthly estimates 1 of 4 drinking consumers do not drink wine but prefer beer or spirits. Of the 130 million adult populations it is estimated 35% drink some wine, according to Live Science. This illustrates the finite size of the market and the precision required in branding to be effective in developing a consumer’s perception of a corporate winery brand.
For this discussion on winery branding, Wines and Vines tells us that the average price of a bottle of wine keeps inching up and is now approximately $12. The real sweet spot is in the $10-15 per bottle range. When a winery looks at the cost of raw materials, marketing, packaging, sales/discounting and facilities and G/A the margins are restrictive when planning a new or improved branding program. Wineries in this position need volume and a 5,000 case run makes branding challenging, but not impossible.