- Published on Sunday, 25 March 2012 13:17
- Written by Richard Siddle
Rhone valley wines are to be backed by a £1 million support programme in the UK as Inter Rhône, its generic body, looks to build on its number one position in the French red AOC wine market.
The activity will see the continuation of its Think Red, Think Côtes du Rhône above the line advertising campaign and the repeat of its sponsorship of the London Double Header event to mark the start of the Premiership rugby season in September.
The target audience for Rhône remains the frequent and occasional wine drinking core 33-55 year old age group and will be mostly spent in the autumn and last quarter of the year with a bigger emphasis this year on outdoor and railway advertising than in print.
Oriane Beloud, Inter Rhône's export and marketing manager, said she had "fought hard" to maintain the marketing and promotional support in the UK even though Inter Rhône had lost €3m from its overall budget due to smaller recent vintages.
Despite holding 38% of the French red AOC wine category in the UK in 2011, and 28% of the total French AOC category, there was a 3.8% decline in red Rhône sales last year after its jump in 2010, said Beloud (Source: IRI -MAT sales to January 4, 2012). But she put this down to Rhône's much publicised move away from the entry level wine market with a 10% fall in wines below £4 compared to 2010.
The average price for a Côte du Rhône Villages wine now sits at £5.39. Only 14% of its volumes are now sold below £4, against 58% in 2007.
Price categories over £5.50 are up 3% with the strongest growth coming in the £5 to £5.50 price range where it sold 1.6 million more bottles in 2011. Volumes between £4 and £5.50 now represent 52% of Rhône sales and it accounts for 63% of red French AOP sales above £10.
Rhône rosé sales now lead the French rosé category accounting for 36% of sales up 59% in 2011. But rosé still only accounts for 4% of overall Rhône volumes in 2011, but is from 1% in 2007. Red volumes have slipped from 93% in 2007 to 86%, whilst white wine volumes have increased from 6% in 2007 to 10% in 2011.
Beloud said Inter Rhône would continue to target the independent on and off-trades to help widen its distribution. It is to repeat the independent point of sale promotional campaign it first ran in 2011 and extend the programme from 100 merchants to 150.
It is to launch a new generic website, www.rhone-wines.com, at the end of April featuring links to producers' websites, Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. "We want producers to go on there and showcase what they are up to," added Beloud.
Its Think Red, Think Côtes du Rhône, scores well in consumer awareness studies. Amongst ABC1 consumers in London and the South the Rhône lies fifth in spontaneous awareness of wine regions after California, one, Rioja, two, Bordeaux, three, and Chianti four.