Tag Archive - marketing

Naked Wines’ Latest Marketing Campaign a bit See-Through?

I just received the latest email marketing campaign from Naked Wines (the UK office – now that they have a presence in the US and Australia this probably needs to be stated), and I’m a little disappointed.

I’ve always thought highly of their marketing savvy. The move to rate wines not by stars or points, but simply by whether you would buy the wine again, was genius.

No matter what you thought of the actual wine range, they managed to connect with the audience they were targeting, and speak to them in a positive way, involve them in the business, and create a strong user community. It fitted the honest, or ‘naked’, approach they claimed to favour.

What rankled in the latest email – “Become a wine genius in about 52 seconds” – was that they sent a quiz (I’m a sucker for a wine related quiz, and I had 5 minutes with a cup of tea, and they promised it would take only 52 seconds, so …) to see if I was a “Wine Genius” but instead of a quiz, I got a lecture.

It really surprised me.

There are 6 questions, most of which are slap-in-the-face obvious marketing statements, such as:

Tricky one this one

Tricky one this one

“Well, let me see … now, I think I remember studying that at school, just a minute …”

However, two things really surprised me. It wasn’t just the questions, but the approach taken to the answers.

The first question was:

Define your terms, please

Define your terms, please

Now, I would argue this point. I know what they are getting at, but since they do not define “costs to make” but one could certainly argue that the true cost of hand-picked grapes, made in small quantities, aged for years in cellars and carefully prepared and presented to the customer could cost more than £10 if the winemaker wanted to survive, invest in the winery (and pay off debts), stand out from the crowd, and also pay others fairly too.

The next question was a false choice between traditionally packaged wines and screwcap bottles:

No corks allowed, sorry

No corks allowed, sorry

 

Ignoring the biased “delicious vs average” aspect, there may be plenty good reasons for preferring the traditional packaging (for example, I might like to keep the wine for some years then use my Coravin), but apparently I MUST conform to their packaging mantra, or else!

And this was the second, and major point. Apparently, I’M WRONG.

We hear a lot about making wine more accessible, less frightening and stressful for consumers. I believed Naked Wines agreed. However, it seems that if I suggest that I might like a cork, or that it actually might be possible to believe that wine costs over £10 to make, it is not a valid opinion, and I am simply wrong. Like this:

Naked Wines Answer

Naked Wines customers are deeper than that! (oh, and that “small fortune” can’t be that much since they’ve told me that it still has to come under £10 all in!)

The good news, is that despite disagreeing with all their statements questions, and being consistently wrong, I am apparently still a Genius and worthy of my £20 discount (you might be a genius too – try the “What’s your Wine IQ?” quiz)

I’m left with the impression of a marketing misstep from the team at Naked Wines

Miracle of turning water into wine too good to be true?

When is an April Fool’s joke not an April Fool? When it takes place in March.

About two weeks ago, Philip James the wine entrepreneur behind Snooth & Lot18, and his CustomVine CEO partner Kevin Boyer, launched a fundraising drive for what they called the “Miracle Machine”. The machine was going to revolutionise home wine making by creating a table-top device that promised to make any style of wine you liked in only 3 days.

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The promise was astounding, and caught the attention not just of eager wine drinkers, but US and UK national media, with articles in the Daily Mail, ABC News, Time, Business Insider, Mashable and many more. According to reports, the campaign generated 500 million media impressions, thousands of twitter mentions and even a 7000 strong list of supporters willing to fund a kickstarter campaign.

However, this Miracle Machine turned out to be too good to be true. The idea was apparently created by the MSL Group for Wine to Water, a charity bringing clean water to communities around the world, which is MSL’s pro-bono client of the year.

James and Boyer’s creation was in fact a means to catch the attention of the world, and one that performed better than they might have expected. The “M | M” logo for the Miracle Machine was a clever inversion of the “W | W” logo of Wine to Water, just as the campaign is now attempting to invert the idea of the miraculous conversion.

In a short statement issued yesterday, James said, “The miracle of turning water to wine might remain out of reach, but Wine to Water has shown that the real miracle of providing clean water is easily within our grasp”.

Miracle-MachineWhilst the stunt certainly generated a lot of interest in the fake product, it remains to be seen whether the individuals and news organisations that were duped will see the amusing side of this “disruptive good will” activity, and therefore whether the activity will end up benefitting the charity. What’s certain is that CustomVine and its founders have enjoyed some time in the media spotlight.

For real wine miracles, visit your local wine merchant instead. There are thousands of people making magic happen all over the world.

March 22nd is World Water Day.

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Sustainability by the wine trade

Everyone uses the term ‘sustainability’ these days, but what it means to everyone can vary enormously.

From simple carbon reducing measures, such as using lighter glass bottles and renewable energy, through changes to vineyard practice including organics, and even wholesale regional programmes, the term covers many issues and different levels of commitment.

Joao Portugal Ramos on Sustainability

Joao Portugal Ramos on Sustainability

When the issue of “Sustainability in the wine trade” was raised with a cross-section of the world’s wine trade on Vrazon’s AccessZone at the London Wine Trade Fair, what was noticeable was the ambition and commitment of producers from Australia and New Zealand and their assumption that this was a collective task. There were also interesting stories from Europe, but they tended to be from individual producers taking unilateral steps, often at a cost and risk to themselves.

Many of the answers revolved around what needed to change in the vineyard and the winery, and interestingly, how ‘sustainability’ is not synonymous with ‘organics’ (or is that the other way around?). There were a lot of laudable changes proposed to how we treat vines and how we protect water resources for example. There were also allusions to alternative packaging for wine and to philosophical approaches such as Natural Wine (more videos on this will be published soon). It made me wonder whether the driving force for these changes came from a concern for the planet, as a reaction to a consumer demand for action, or simply because they made business sense to those businesses with an eye on the future?

The answer, of course, was “all of them”, but I am not convinced that there is sufficient consumer awareness of the issue as it affects wine for ‘sustainability’ to be a positive differentiator for a wine or winery, and so any sustainability projects needed to be either required of all businesses (by governments, regional authorities or even retailers, to avoid some producers taking all the risks) or carefully tested for commercial returns on investment.

What do you think the future of ‘sustainability’ is for the wine business, and how might this topic be made more relevant to the wider wine trade?

This was only one of several topics raised for WineConversation Unfiltered. For this and related topics, visit: wineconversation.com/unfiltered

I have seen the future of artisan wine, and it comes in a can

This may sound odd, but there is a link between packaging innovation and the increasing focus on biodynamics and ‘natural wine’, it just isn’t a simple one.

I am not suggesting that natural wine producers are better served choosing tetrapacks, paper bottles or aluminium cans for their wines (although they might), but sometimes the simplest way to define what you ARE about is to explain what you are NOT, after all:

  • a desert is that area where rain doesn’t fall
  • land is all that planet surface not covered by water
  • silence is the absence of sound

Wine in a can

Wine in a can

The wine trade expends a lot of effort arguing over differences between organic, biodynamic and natural wines for example, but almost none trying to find a way to differentiate between the real extremes of the wine market, namely between all of the above ‘artisan’ wines and those wines made to be sold in vast volumes through mass distribution channels such as supermarkets. In fact, you might be forgiven for thinking that the wine trade pretended that these wines in supermarkets didn’t even exist.

How do you explain to a consumer, in simple terms, what makes a bottle of Gallo Chardonnay different from a Gravner Ribolla Gialla? What ‘category’ of the market do they fall into? How is a consumer to differentiate between them when they both come in 75cl glass bottles, with similar corks and basic paper labels?  We need to develop a POSITIVE categorisation of these volume wines in order to have a meaningful conversation about the different needs and benefits of each part of the market.

ARTISANAL WINES

We may not all agree that ‘Natural’ is a fair category name, but we might all basically agree that the Gravner, and thousands of other small producers, are ‘Artisanal’ wines of some sort (read this great post by Robert Joseph on the subject of artist vs artisan).

Defining this is very hard however, so let’s take a “model” Artisan wine and say it probably comes from a small producer with their own vineyards, produced in limited quantities, that is different year on year, that has some taste characteristics that sets it apart from the vast majority of other wines (that not everyone will like) and is linked to the local ‘terroir‘, and that none of these factors are subject to change based on consumer feedback. Essentially, the wine is driven by the producer’s interpretation of what is ‘best’ from their vineyards, take it or leave it. Lots of wines will diverge on some of these points, but the general sense is there.

Artisanal wines are Producer driven (these are sometimes referred to as Terroir wines, but you still need a producer involved!)

The above is obviously not the driving motivation of the wines on offer in multiple grocers around the world. So, what do you call the rest?

  • Branded? No! Branding is very limited and not exclusive to this area.
  • Bulk? No, too negative and not necessarily true
  • Commodity? A good option, but it still implies a negative view of the factors.

How about a term like “Convenience Wines”?

CONVENIENCE WINES

The key features of these wines is that they are dependable, consistent, easy to drink, not overly challenging and widely available. All of these are driven by consumer demand, not producer preference. In simple terms, then, ‘Artisanal’ wines are wines that are NOT ‘Convenience’ wines.

Wine snobs may sneer at the quality of the “wine” in the bottle, but in fact this is only one aspect of the product that consumers are after. What’s the use of a “great” wine that I can’t afford, can’t find and may not even like? Great for whom?

Convenience wines are Consumer driven (to the extent that wine producers really understand their consumers).

The problem is that convenience wines still LOOK like artisanal wines.

If convenience is the key to this category of wine, then we have a reason to work to increase convenience by looking not just at wine styles, but also at packaging, branding & communication.

For example, glass bottles are great for longer term storage of wine, often benefitting artisanal wines. However, alternative packaging, such as bag-in-box, paper bottles or wine pouches for example, is logical in this context of convenience. It is potentially cheaper, easier to transport, more flexible for different drinking occasions, more flexible for branding and offers more communication opportunities. A wholesale move into alternatives would bring down their costs and remove a great deal of cost from the product, potentially meaning higher margins and/or cheaper products.

GreenBottle Paper Wine Bottle Alternative packaging has not really taken off in the UK compared to, for example, Scandinavia. One reason is that we treat ALL products of fermented grapes as “wine”, so the same communication rules are applied to all, resulting in an undifferentiated sea of “handmade” wines, from “historic vineyards“, made by “passionate” individuals that match any food you may choose to pair them with – whatever the truth might be.

If we were to find a way to promote the specific attributes of Convenience Wine and differentiate them visually, in terms of branding and communication as well as style, the wine retail market could be made more straightforward for the consumer, to everyone’s benefit. Wine drinkers might no longer be confused about the difference between a simple wine for weeknight supping, and the experience of an artisan wine for special occasions.

Isn’t it in the interests of both ends of the spectrum to come to an arrangement?

Sometimes, the worst of enemies can find common cause, and in this case it is to fight consumer confusion and indifference.

I’ll raise a can of wine to that!

Thoughts from the AccessZone

How the Internet Changed my Business” is a great introduction for some thoughts on the excitement of the Access Zone at the London Wine Fair last week.
Access Zone Logo
Not only is this something that we at Vrazon talk about a lot, but it was also the first session and one that we got some great feedback on. In some ways, the whole point of the Access Zone programme and ethos is to showcase the ideas and opportunities of social media for the wine trade, and kicking off with the stories of three people who are not the usual suspects, talking from a perspective beyond the usual winemaking or retailing one, helped to set the scene.

We are so grateful to our MANY friends who came by to say hello, to contribute to the programme and also to contribute to the informal networking and advice that happened on the AccessZone. It was wonderful to see so many great wine content creators from around the world stopping by in London from bases in France, Italy, USA, Portugal, The Netherlands, Spain and Canada (did I miss someone?). If you’ve created some content on the fair or the access zone, let us know so we can share it.

Over the next few days and weeks we will be publishing and commenting on the sessions that were all recorded & produced so professionally by our friends at Mad Cat Media (HIRE THEM NOW!). We will also start to publish the series of interviews that were conducted on the stand with many influential figures in the wine business for our “Unfiltered” series. These are being edited and made ready as we speak and will be a great resource for anyone interested in the future of wine. Keep an eye on this site.

We also have to congratulate Catherine Monahan and Robert Joseph for the success of Wine-Stars which took place on the Access Zone on the Thursday (visit their site to learn more about this event). Vrazon was very happy to have been able to support the activity and help to bring the event to life and record the proceedings for the world to experience. Good luck to all those involved, especially the fantastic wineries who took part.

If you missed any of the key sessions, such as the announcement of the Born Digital Wine Awards 2012 winners, or the presentation about the EWBC Digital Wine Communications Conference in Turkey, all these are available now.

Thank you so much to the partners who helped us make the Access Zone happen including the London Wine Fair, Laithwaites, Wines of Turkey, the Circle of Wine Writers, p+f wineries, freewine and others.

In the meantime, do watch and enjoy this:

Some related Access Zone posts we’ve come across:

Le “Social Media” fait le plein a la LIWF

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