Tag Archive - tesco

Paper Wine Bottle to Rescue Wine Sales?

Does this bottle represent a way to safeguard the future of the wine trade in the UK? This is a bottle made from recycled paper, a plastic liner, and a simple, but effective design. It seems unlikely, yet I find it very exciting.

Paperboy, Paper Bottle

Paperboy, Paper Bottle

If you remove the financial and environmental costs of glass bottles, and put that BACK into producer & retailer margins, you can still reduce the cost of the wine being sold in retail channels and have money to invest in marketing and branding. Once the door is open to packaging innovation, why stop with paper? There are pouches, tetrapacks, boxes, cans and more that fit the above criteria too. We can energise the volume market for wine, helping producers and retailers across the world.

CREATING DIFFERENCE. CREATING VALUE

One of the biggest issues facing the wine trade is our complete inability to explain to consumers why a bottle sold in a supermarket for £5 is any different to one sold via a specialist merchant for £50. This confusion allows supermarkets in particular to benefit from the ‘goodwill’ associated with wine and its aspirational nature. While it helps to sell lots of bottles, it actually damages the general perception of wine. Consumers do not naturally ‘trade-up’ to more expensive bottles once they’ve discovered wine. On the contrary, they eventually stop seeing it as anything special.

This is not about education. It is about branding and marketing.

We have no language to differentiate what a chocolatier might call “Confectionery” in the wine business from “Artisanal” bottles. As far as the consumer sees it, if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and tastes like duck, … then it is a duck, and this duck is on special offer!

Here’s my solution, separate the ducks from the … swans. (OK, no more duck analogies).

CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN

Paperboy Promotion

Paperboy Promotion

Instead of trying to “educate” consumers to distinguish wines according to region, grape mix, or wine style, change the cues they really care about. Change the packaging!

The wine sold in supermarkets has certain distinguishing features, chief amongst which is the fact that bottles are consumed within HOURS of being sold, and within mere weeks from being bottled in many cases. They do not need glass bottles, corks, labels and many other costly packaging designed for long-term cellaring.

Many of you dear readers (and I’m guessing the majority will be linked to the wine trade in some way), will object immediately and say “but consumers WANT bottles, corks, etc. and do not like alternative packaging.” I would agree as things stand, but WHY? Because that’s what we TELL them they are supposed to like. Instead of promoting alternatives, we spread our prejudices linked to the wines WE like to drink, which is not what most consumers need to hear.

When something new comes along, either as a style of wine, new packaging or retail innovation, it is often criticised for dumbing down wine, for treating wine “like coca-cola”, for “not really understanding wine”.

Think back 10 years, and how the majority of the trade felt about screwcaps. Nobody wanted them, apparently. They made wine look cheap, apparently. They were simply “not suitable”, apparently. We were told there was no demand from consumers or the trade, apparently.

WRONG! It took a gutsy commitment by the supermarkets, especially Tesco, to promote them positively, to change the mantra, and consumers took to them like ducks to … oops!

We, the trade, should also stop treating all ‘wine’ as the same and create different categories that have their own context. Bottles WILL remain, but they will be a characteristic of the types of wines that need this kind of long-term packaging for ageing and developing.

Instead of looking down on ‘supermarket wine’ we need to promote the best of it, positively. What simpler distinction can we offer consumers?

INNOVATION

Recycling in action

Recycling in action

That’s where Paperboy comes in.

  • This packaging is already made from recycled paper, and it almost entirely recyclable again – WIN
  • It weighs a fraction of the glass equivalent, with a massive saving on shipping, distribution and production costs – WIN
  • It is safe and portable – WIN
  • It opens the possibility to different shapes, branding and formats – WIN

This is not just wine idealism. This product exists and is being enthusiastically backed by Safeway (in the US) and the design has also featured on TheDieline.

I contacted the designers responsible for Paperboy, Stranger & Stranger, already highly respected for their creative designs in the wine and spirits world and asked Kevin Shaw, Founder & Creative Director, a few questions, and he answered in his characteristically direct manner.

Where did the idea for Paperboy originate from? I saw one of these paper bottles a couple of years ago so I assume there is a patent out there that this licences?

One of the partners of Greenbottle approached us with a prototype they’d been showing around but couldn’t get anyone to bite on. I thought there was some potential, not in the UK market but in the US where they have more of an open mind to testing new ideas. So we came up with a sexy brand name and concept, put Greenbottle together with Truett Hurst, a winery group we have a strong relationship with, and sold in the brand to some retailers. Honestly, we had everyone biting our hand off for the product.

Will Paperboy be available in the UK?

No. Greenbottle couldn’t find a retailer brave enough to even trial it. And even if they did they’d want to stick it on promotion like everything else. We’re interested in using innovation to drive value up.

How scalable is this product? Will we ever see it in mass production for volume brands, or is this something that will require a huge investment before that could happen?

The production development for this product has been tough but they now have it together on a commercial scale and we’re talking about many millions of units next year.

What has the consumer reaction been, more importantly, the distribution chain’s reaction? Any issues of display, shipping, returns? 

The distribution chain has been over the moon because everything is so much lighter. They can fit twice as much wine on lorries – lorries are packed by weight – so they save a load of money on fuel. The retailers are getting behind it, just take a look at the attached picture, because it’s really good wine with something real to contribute to the environment. The energy saving is huge, almost 85% energy saving on glass bottles.

Influencers are hugely interested as this is something really unique and we’ve purposely created the brand launch to appeal to early adopters so the influence will trickle down. It’s been amazing at making wine appealing to a younger consumer.

Where next?

Where next for paper bottles? We’re rolling out the idea to other beverages. Where next for wine bottles? We’ve a load of new ideas in development and now we’ve got a platform in the US there’s no stopping innovation.

The innovation is already happening. Our task is to create a positive language to support this.

What do you think?

Is innovation in packaging the route to reducing wine category confusion?

UPDATE: Some comments from:

Twitter:

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First Look: Tesco iPhone Wine App

I was told about a clever new application for the iPhone that has just been released by Tesco in the Apple iTunes Store: Tesco Wine Finder

I recorded a brief video of my first trials – see what you think.

Seems pretty clever use of technology to me – combining label recognition (to save retyping details), social aspects such as sharing your review of the wine, and online shopping.

I will have a more in-depth trial of it, but at first glance this seems like a good way of encouraging consumers to look at what they are drinking a little more closely and recording the wines they liked for future purchase.

Disclosure: the application only works for wines listed by Tesco and I only had a couple readily to hand, so I have used one that I am involved in supplying to them, the Castillo San Lorenzo Fincas, for demonstration.

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Alcohol Monopoly

I have been visiting Nova Scotia in Canada for a number of years (it is absolutely beautiful by the way) and usually I am critical of the concept of the Canadian state (well, the Provincial governments) having a monopoly on the sale of alcohol. You can check out the range here.

For those of us living in the UK or most of Europe, the idea that the state should control what wines or spirits should be available, where, and for how much is extraordinary (if you live or visit Sweden this is probably not such a shock for you).

[Some might argue of course that this is exactly where we are heading in the UK because of the retail strength of the supermarkets like Tesco - but even here we at least have a number of alternative ranges to choose from]

My reaction is usually – “How could one organisation tell us what wines we can drink?”, especially when the result, at least in Canada, is a pretty limited range of branded wines?

The reason for this structure is most likely still a hang-over (!) from Prohibition (yes, they had it here too), and there is a sort of puritanical streak to the management of this ‘vice’ which I personally disagree with. It also means that there is a form of “lowest common denominator” effect at work which determines that all wine have to be available in minimum quantities to supply all stores, have to be consistent and also be able to comply with the kinds of red-tape only government departments are able to create. This often results in a pretty bland range.

However, there is one small silver lining to this was pointed out to me which I had not considered. In the UK we have such a high density of population that we can pretty well guarantee access to supermarkets or shops wherever we are, with a few exceptions of course. This means that the market can operate quite freely and there will be someone who can sell you what you are looking for within a reasonable distance.

When you take a country like Canada, this is definitely not the case outside of most large cities. So much of the infrastructure here depends on government support to reach tiny communities in distant areas, that if the government did not step in, certain items (especially luxury items such as wine) would either be impossible to get, or prohibitively expensive.

OK, so wine is probably not the main justification for this type of system, and I’m sure they make a pretty penny or two in tax from selling and taxing all that alcohol, but at least they can get it. Hopefully in time, and with a little popular pressure, the range will improve further.

I’m sure the local “liquor commission” would tell you that a monopoly also means that there are clear & limited channels for reaching consumers, giving the opportunity for ‘managing’ consumer alcohol consumption. I still think that in the longer term education works better than restricting access. However, thinking positively, it does mean there are obvious places to start reaching consumers with information on wine to educate and inform them and improve their experience.

Still, I’ll take Tesco’s range over the NSLC one any day!

bursting the expensive bubble?

As a further follow up post on the subject of better wines in supermarkets, I see that The Telegraph (online at least) has recycled their previous news story with a funny, and unintended, contrast:

Quote from today’s article – exactly as per the page:

“Sales of bottles costing £10 or more are up 74 per cent in the past two years, said Tesco. The chain is stocking bottles of wine priced at up to £100 each for the first time.

[...] The supermarket’s beer, wine and spirits category manager, Jason Godley, said more shoppers are treating themselves to expensive wines.

“This would never have happened in a British supermarket even a few years ago and it suggests that Brits are fast shaking off their reputation, especially with our European neighbours, as a nation of plonk drinkers,” he said.

• South African brand Arniston Bay is launching wine in resealable pouches.

The pouches will launch in Britain this month, according to The Grocer magazine.”

Presumably those pouches are full of ‘quality’ non-plonk at over £10 then?

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.

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