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Chile comes into its own

Published:  18 January, 2007

I had vowed not to write about retail this month and to consider some of the areas, that I am exploring in my new guise which after years of my necessarily streamlined vision of focussing on life within the rather large goldfish bowl of multiple retail, my eyes have been opened, and mind awakened to pastures new, as I work, in various of my new guises with on-trade, wholesale and specialists and learn to understand the different and varied demands and requirements of these sectors of the business.

Multiple grocers are the quickest route to market; multiple grocers and convenience chains are where over 70% of the wine buying public buy their wines.

Own brand is a crucial part of that mix, and in the case of Chile, has played a vital and integral part in the development of this sector in the UK. The consumer is happy with Chile at around 4-4.50 why?

Because supermarkets have delivered range and value for money in droves, for Chile. As an ex-buyer, my mantra was always - "be objective, think of the consumer" and this is exactly righthowever, I would hazard a guess that I, and several of my fellow, grocery multiple buyers have a less than well hidden admiration for Chile, because it does deliver at the crucial 5 mark, and its average price point is already considerably ahead of South Africa.

Criticise promotions? Potentially. Criticise what the retail industry has done and is doing for Chile, via own brand? Categorically no! Before the welcome advent of Michael Cox and Wines of Chile, and before the realisation by UK importers that Chile was a brand on which to build, own brand dominated the Chilean sector in the UK, with potentially the best value and quality throughout the own brand range.

Own brand, and the inherent quality and value for money that it offered is what first gave Chile a helping hand onto the UK market so let's not "diss it" now. And retailers are firmly focussed on driving this category, on communicating to consumers and to get their faithful, and trusting own brand supporters onto the bandwagon. Tesco have just launched 24 new variants to its Finest Range, Morrisons have just pushed the price point with the relaunch of The Best

Own brand plays a vital part in the marketing and consumer education for mainstream wine buyers, and no one should forget this. On-trade and specialists form an important part of the critical mass, but in terms of developing Brand Chile', then this is the role of the retail outlets.

Where brands are strong, focus on these, as long as quality delivers; where brands are embryonic, use whatever power you have to convey the message.. Consumers who trust a retail brand, will trust a retail wine brand my plea to retail buyers now, is to maintain quality, especially in this area, where own brand still dominates..

The UK market can be compared to shifting sands at the moment, both in terms of trade and consumer; There will be seismic changes within the industry, in all aspects within the next two years.

However, given route to market, and having identified where most of our consumers are spending their money, I would be loath to criticise own brand and I would urge brand owners to review the role of own brand within total category, before sharpening spears! And I promise to write about life outside retail next month.