Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Hotties, marketing, and wine consumption in the US

I received a good deal of . . . flak . . . regarding my suggestion that marketing wine in the US should include good looking women. Seems a good number of people (*cough* snobs) are missing the point, so let me break this down for those too busy licking the label of their $150 CA Cult bottles or the receipt of their 01' Bordeaux futures to understand the fundamentals of marketing. The sheer absurdity of some of the things people have said to me in the last week regarding marketing wine in the US is just mind boggling. And the frivolity of my previous post on the subject may have led to misunderstanding among the lower primates.

Currently, growth in sales of wine, aggregate of all catagories, in the US is around 2 - 3% annually.
-If you think that is good, you probably work for a fedora or buggy whip company
-In reality, that type of growth (or lack thereof) for an alcoholic beverage is horrid
-If you subtract the growth in the table wine and under $7 catagories in the last three years, the growth rate would likely be less than 2%

My perspective :
-Wine is just a beverage
-Wine is an alcoholic beverage
-Wine is not a MONOLITHIC product (table wine is not super premium wine etc) and the US consumes as much hard alcohol (by volume!) as it does wine!
-The wine industry, as a whole, does a HORRIBLE job of marketing wine.
-The wine industry, as a whole, does a freakin ABYSMAL job of marketing to WOMEN, in any demographic, and a CATASTROPHICALLY bad job of marketing wine to the 21-35 demographic.
-Different catagories of wine require different MARKETING techniques

That being said, I have set these goals (my opinion only) for INCREASING WINE CONSUMPTION GROWTH in the US.

Opportunities for Marketing wine in US.
-Females, all demographics
-Males/Females, age 21-35

INCREASE wine consumption for the Female under age 44 by 15% in the next 5 years
INCREASE wine consumption for the Male/Female under age 35 by 20% in the next 5 years
(I hear the gasping "Oh Huge, that's impossible". Fine, then go away, and be happy in being a consumer, I'm talking about growth in SALES for this industry)

Now let me clarify, and as I have pointed out in previous posts
-The 21-35 demographic is not stupid or unsophisticated
-The 21-35 demographic will not buy wine by label art alone
-The 21-35 demographic represents the FUTURE consumers of wine
-Wine is not the alcoholic beverage of choice of the 21-35 demographic
!!! The 21-35 demographic represents an ENORMOUS potential market for wine!!!

Marketing wine to the 21-35 demographic and female under 44 demographic will require DIFFERENT marketing techniques. Established techniques that are NOT substantially different for other ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES.

Now, can you wine snobs see that? can you? please say yes. Because if you fall into the arguments I see on the Robert Parker & Wine Spectator message boards then you are past my ability to remediate.

What I would do :
-Stop spending money on ads (Wine Marketing Council) placed in lifestyle magazines, magazines where the consumer already has a relatively high consumption of wine.
-Use women to market to women
-Use women to market to men
-Portray and market wine as a BEVERAGE
-Avoid excessive purience, but do not avoid using FUN, HUMOR, or Pulchritude to sell wine.
-Market wine ALONG side RTD (ready to drink)
-Develop alternate and accessible (RTD style, like SophiaMini) PACKAGING beyond what is currently available (this will entail failures, that is, ideas that seem good but will flop. . .and you know what, that is OK, it's what we call business)

I have a specific idea to market wine, I will unveil that in a few weeks, but I needed to clarify this topic because so many people were just struggling with applying the basic concepts of marketing to wine.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree on allll accounts. But my question to you is...are there any indications that it will ever happen?

Do you think the wine types are aware of the opportunity enough to target these demos?

Lenn Thompson

January 12, 2005 6:48 AM  
Blogger Huge said...

Like Sisyphus, I face an uphill battle, stopping only to press on again.....time will tell if the powers that be can be swayed from the dark side.


January 12, 2005 4:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The powers that be will do whatever they need to do in order to retain their ranking on the list of powers that be. Your idea of approaching wine as a beverage (rather than as a badge of lifestyle) is a sound one. As a friend of mine says, "wine ain't art, it's groceries!"

Schoonmaker, Sichel and Lichine felt that they HAD to position wine as an upscale commodity in order to get a foothold in the US marketplace. Unfortunately, we subsequent wine marketeers have been paying for that decision ever since.

The sort of marketing campaign that's necessary to accomplish what you've proposed will have to be carried out by the major producers and their distributors. This will no doubt lead to more bland, branded label crap but it's okay, as it will be the portal for some people into the world of wine.

As important as the 21-35 demographic is, I would suggest that attention also be paid to the 10-20 year old group. Not that wine should be marketed directly to them, but it's never too early to differentiate between wine and distilled spirits, and at the present time they're being taught by well meaning groups that ALL alcohol is evil. The wine industry needs to put across the concept that wine consumed in moderation and accompanying food is not such a bad thing. Once that hurdle has been crossed, that leaves the door open for the appreciation of wine when they've reached the legal drinking age.

Am anxiously awaiting your specific ideas as to marketing wine to the uninitiated...

January 12, 2005 10:36 PM  
Blogger Huge said...

Certainly there's much change to be desired regarding our (US) culture and it's puritanical views of all things alcoholic.

It bleeds through to our notions of wine shipments & where/how they're appropriate (or not), our cultures' ideals regarding teaching our kids about the responsible use of alcohol, etc. (See my post on Zero Tolerance as well as my post re University of OK Bans Alcohol...
also, VineSugar had a good post/thread regarding French children drinking a non-alcoholic sparkling apple juice called Champomy(sp?) just the other day that fits into your comment.)

I wholeheartedly agree that there's much to do in the 10~21 year old range...not marketing as much as education.
Changing how this culture views alcohol - in regard to teaching our youth about it - is FAR overdue. We will continue to see young adults fall by the wayside, as well as have lifelong problems with alcohol, until we decide to engage them at a younger age in frank talks about both it's pleasures and dangers.
And just targeting those who are already past 21 probably won't achieve that goal, as most adults carry the personality & views they have developed by age 18 throughout the rest of their lives. True change will only occur if you can reach people before their views are 'set for life', otherwise you're just going to be reaching individuals - not the society as a whole.
Lots of work to be done here, and it won't be accomplished quickly.
Thanks for commenting.


January 13, 2005 8:46 AM  
Anonymous Jamie said...


Couldn't agree more with what you are saying, and sometimes it seems a life can be spent trying to convince the "powers that be" that people (which ironically they are as well) aren't as stupid as they think. That being said, where can I get stats about the consumption of wine and it's growth or non-growth in the 18-39 age range. More and more of my friends are becoming interested in wine, whether a Sideways introduction or random chance. Is my perception correct or is my group of friends, late 20's to early 30's, outside the norm? Good luck with your battles.

June 06, 2005 2:32 PM  

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