Archive - April, 2007

Losing the Blue Nun habit?

Headline from The Telegraph, “Wine lovers kick the Blue Nun habit“.

The gist of the story is that sales at £10+ are increasing at a fabulous rate in Tesco while Waitrose’s average wine spend per bottle is £8 and Jeroboam’s is £10.

Great!

So why is the average price of wine still below £4? This is because the main outlets for wine sales are continuing to sell cheap wine at a discount. It is great to hear that Tesco’s sales of wine above £10 increased 75%, but they hardly sold any in the past and now they have created a Fine Wine area. It would be much more interesting to see what their average price per bottle had done over the last few years. I doubt it has increased.

However, it is heartening to hear that a greater number of people are buying a decent quality wine, and, according to the article, finding good wine fashionable rather than elitist. If this is true, and I don’t see hard evidence of the fact, this is a pretty major breakthrough.

Unfortunately there is a long time to go before I quite believe the hyperbole of certain supermarket chains, as quoted in the article:

“Jason Godley, the wine manager for Tesco, said: “Britons used to be perceived by the rest of the world as a nation of beer drinkers, but this is changing fast. Many Brits think nothing about spending £10 for a bottle of wine at a supermarket and if the occasion is really special then perhaps even £100.”

£100 for a bottle of wine in my local Tesco? I think not.

And as for kicking the Blue Nun habit, I think Blue Nun sales figures might dispute that conclusion.

Conversation starter

I have been looking for ways for conversations to kindle the love of wine, but maybe the place to start is where wine conversation kindles love.

My wife pointed out an article in one of those free papers for commuters last night. The centre spread, apparently a regular feature, looks at dating in London. The main article yesterday was about wine speed dating.

I have heard of a number of such events. Basically, take speed dating, add wine. The wine is the conversation starter. You learn a little about it at the start, then go around comparing notes and preferences. Not only do you get an excuse to talk to potential partners, but you get the wine and wine education thrown in as part of the deal. Excellent!

This one was organised by Grape Vine Social, apparently a big organisation, but I have also seen the WSET organise its own events (well done Nicolla!).

It may seem a little silly (unless you are single and looking for a better way of meeting people), but it says something about wine that it works in this context. I can’t imagine Gin, Bacardi Breezers or Absinthe would work the same way or have the same appeal (although there may be a niche market for each, especially for Beer).

My only quibbles about the reported date are 1) the wines chosen (Hardy’s, Banrock Station, Kiss Chasey?) and 2) if you are looking for a relationship, would you give all the details to the paper so your potential partner can read them the next day??

Maybe I’m old fashioned that way.

Copy cat actions

Thanks to mark e who left me a comment on my post about motivation.

“btw I suspect the trick is to get people doing something neat that others can copy. The enormous social signal of a pint glass with ice in it is just such a behavioural meme.

On wine suggestions:
Hugh at http://www.gapingvoid.com and his Stormhoek have blended something to suit the ice-cube usage occasion.”

That story came out the day after I posted my thoughts I think (I regularly read gapingvoid, although he is more focused on Microsoft’s Blue Monsters at the moment). Copying an action is one thing, copying a “trademark” action is another, as it will always strike the consumer of the copycat that they are being manipulated in this second case, possibly making them re-evaluate the original.

Some of the pre-teen-friendly pop groups succeded by creating dance routines that the teeny-boppers could copy (e.g. Steps?). Many others followed, with greater or lesser success, but ultimately it becomes part of the marketing repertoire and therefore loses its power.

When it comes to alcoholic drinks, I assume that the target markets are probably aware of this and therefore that the “tail” of this copying action will be short, however I may well be proven wrong.

I don’t know this, but I imagine that “Herd” memories are short and that is why we keep making the same mistakes, so I guess ice manufacturers are going to be in business a little while longer.

In Wines and Spirits we Trust

Been a little more quiet recently as I am attending a course all week at the WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust), and studying all the materials they sent through.

This is a well known trade qualification, but if you have not heard of it, then I thoroughly recommend you look at one of their courses as a great grounding in wine.

Where we take it from there is the fun bit!

External and Internal Motivation

I read a lot of different blogs these days, things I have come across largely through suggestions from other bloggers (that is the real power of blogging). Sometimes this is called something like “Google-drift” but when it is directed, then it is about learning and spreading your horizons.

One such blog is Herd: The Hidden Truth About Who We Are.

The most recent post chimed with my thoughts on my own recent post. If you want to understand what motivates people then you must realise that it is not just “internal” factors but “external” ones. We interact with those around us, we are part of a “herd” of sorts.

When it comes to building wine brands and motivating 20-30 year olds to be interested in wine and buy more bottles, you have to look beyond what you put on the label and what bottle it will come in, but to what factors would motivate that consumer to even get close to your bottle.

Magners did this with a combination of heavy investment in advertising (mainly tube and bus in London), breaking the mould of a stagnant category (cider) and offering a new format for its product (over ice). They got so many people talking about their product they HAD to try it – even if they hadn’t seen the bottle, tried cider for years or were even thinking about the alcoholic element.

The “cider conversation” has now spread wide enough that Magners cannot even cope with the demand from across the UK and the entire cider category is growing massively. They continue to advertise, but now it is about reach, not innovation; the consumers are doing that themselves.

Now, where is that wine conversation? How do we get 1 million 20-30 year olds talking about wine, any wine? Ideas on a postcard, please.

Wine over ice? No!
Apple wine? That’s just silly!
Chilled red wines for summer? Now there’s an option. Hmmm….

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