If you are in the business of producing or selling a value-adding product, the brand is a most important thing. We all try to take the commodity and make something special and unique, something that has a better perceived value to the end-consumer. But to the consumer, are brands as important as they used to be?
I was treated to a beautiful tasting of their latest releases at the E.Guigal stand at the recent Prowein wine trade fair, when a representative from Drinks International came to deliver a certificate. E.Guigal has been listed at number seven on the Drinks International 2019 list of Most Admired Wine Brands. Quite an achievement! The list reads like the who’s who of the wine word: Penfolds, Torres, Villa Maria, Concha Y Toro and of course, other than Guigal, the famous French Chateux – Margaux, Petrus, D’Yquem. Once your brand makes this esteemed list, one couldn’t be blamed for feeling that you have arrived in the world of wine.
For brand owners, a lot depends on the strength of their brands and I ponder the topic quite often. (Click here for my brand-related blogs). I was also very interested in the latest research from Wine Intelligence, shining a new perspective on brand power. While involved in compiling the list of Most Admired Wine Brands, they have also compiled a list of the Most Powerful Wine Brands. In their report, however, the number one take-away is that the overall impression across all markets, is one of declining wine brand awareness.
In an era where brands have a much more intimate relationship with consumers due to social media and the trend of customisation, why would brand awareness be on the decline? The Wine Intelligence report concludes that despite the more personal interaction that brands can have with consumers online, it is also the online world that causes less awareness. The so-called “Google effect” is to blame. How many telephone numbers do you know? I guess not many. We rely on our devices and the internet for contact details, calendar activities and I would not even remember any birthdays, except those of my wife and son… if it was not for Facebook’s reminders. Because the information is readily accessible online, our brains do not remember these type of details anymore. We do not use our memories in the same way we used to. And the same happens when it comes to consumers remembering brands. Even though they might be more involved in the category, they struggle to recall their favourite brands when asked for it.
So what does the most powerful brands do to stay memorable? The marketing executives of Casella Family Brands and Concha y Toro, respective owners of Yellow Tail and Casillero de Diablo, 2019’s two most powerful global wine brands, state the following:
- the personality of the brand (in the case of Yellow Tail: “unique and approachable”)
- the quality and the taste of the wine
- investment – ensure the product stay relevant and top of mind through packaging improvements, consumer marketing, communication campaigns, retailer initiatives
- clear positioning to make the brand globally recognisable
- distribution – to reach global consumers every day
Although this is hardly anything new, I come to the conclusion that we have to continue doing the basics right. In the competitive world of wine and wine brands, there really is no room for error when it comes to quality, distribution and understanding what your consumer wants. And while being available in all markets, all the time might give these brands much of their power, I believe tourism and technology can help the rest of us.
Despite the google effect, a strong online presence with exceptional social communication can help your brand to stay top of mind. And more than ever, I am convinced that a brand experience through wine tourism will create brand awareness. I think it takes a special kind of not being interested if you can’t remember the brand after you attended an event on the estate, cooked with the chef in the kitchen or joined the winemaker for a blending session.