Wine marketing is outdated and fails to connect with consumers

Wine is out of step with consumers and lags behind other industries, according to a top-level executives at a debate at Wine Vision.

Speaking at Tuesday’s Wine Vision conference in London, key figures from both inside and outside the industry agreed that wine makes itself too complicated and needs to innovate to connect with the consumer.

“Looking from the outside in, wine feels like a step behind other industries,” said Alex Myers, director at marketing agency Manifest London.

“When I buy wine it’s not about the grape or the crispness or sweetness or nose or even legs - what I’m buying is a night in, it’s ‘it’s been 10 years and the kids are at mums’, it’s ‘the football’s on and my mates are round and I still want to feel a bit sophisticated’. It’s the experience. Never, ever do I see wine marketed like that.”

He said the trade was “still too close” to the wall of wine that “it’s blinded by it”.

Myers cited Nike’s Just Do It campaign as selling a lifestyle, with the shoes to go with it, or “John Lewis owning Christmas”, being more about connecting emotionally with customers.

He said people buy products to “join a cause” and that “they will turn up to buy a product if they’re part of a community”.

Bernard Fontannaz, chief executive of Origin Wine, said “people buy with their eyes” which is why the wall of wine can be so “confusing”. He said that wines need to stand out on shelf and require “innovation in design”.

“There’s nothing worse than sitting on shelf, gathering dust and being ignored,” he said, adding that wine is still too conservative.

Fontannaz said back labels offered an opportunity to connect with customers, but that to date, many were “frankly boring” or “meaningless”. “In the wine aisle, our bottle is our ambassador”.

Pam Dillon, co-founder of Wine Ring, said she has “never seen such an untapped opportunity” as in wine, which is why she’s building a platform that will calculate “the nature of preference”. This would tell customers whether they liked or loved wines on shelf.

“Wine is an extremely complicated subject, but it doesn’t need to be. If you break it down into what you like or don’t like it’s very simple,” she added.

Jamie Hutchinson, managing director of the Sampler retail stores said that similar products and prices led consumers to frequently by on price promotion or brand - “neither of which is a particularly good reason”.

The Sampler differentiates itself by buying wines that its staff like - that won’t appeal to everyone - but that it stocks exclusively. It allows people to taste wine, and determine whether or not they like it. “They’ve got to want to buy the wine again in the future.”

Hutchinson said he’s “always surprised by how little bravery” there is in wine retail.




Readers' comments (1)

  • We are an industry reticent to change, update or spend any time focusing on consumers in a meaningful way. Time for some disruptive change for sure - wine becomes more intimidating, imposing and filled with bulls#$%t with each generation and we are only adding to over time, not solving any bigger problems or tapping the real opportunities.

    Buying wines that appeal to the staff, not to the potential market, is like stocking shoes that fit the staff and hoping it may be a fit for the customer. If not, well too bad. Then the seller is left wondering why there is so little return business and why people become intimidated by the process.

    The wine industry does excel at two things: remaining oblivious to the true needs of consumers while perpetuating myths and misinformation!

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