The Grapevine

Is Wine Industry Advertising Ineffective?

November 5th, 2014

Here’s an interesting article on the state of the wine industry and its marketing. It’s from the UK, so not 100% applicable to the US market, but still worth a read. [level-members]

You’ll find the full article here, and my take is below.

Sir John Hegarty is an “advertising guru turned wine producer” and it’s his contention that the wine industry is getting things terribly wrong in the way it presents itself and its products to the consumer. Among his complaints are a lack of consumer-focus in the wine industry, the paralysis of choice, and poor branding.

I don’t know that I agree with him on the paralysis of choice – solving the branding issue would very much solve the paralysis of choice problem he mentions – but that branding problem really is key.

He points out the auto industry as a model in their ability to meet consumer needs. Different cars are built for different tastes. Performance, safety, fuel efficiency, cutting edge technology are each categories of cars you can hone in on … and you can find big cars, small cars, family cars, sporty cars in each of those categories. All these things are relative and a sporty family car is not likely to be the same animal as a sporty performance car, but they are still identifiably branded.

Wine hasn’t been able to do that on an industry-wide basis. Perhaps it’s more difficult to do with wine, as the categories aren’t as obvious. Or, they aren’t as obvious to the uninitiated.

But they could be. For example, we could start by admitting that there are wines that work well for cocktails and wines that really shine when accompanying a meal. That there are wines meant to compliment all kinds of cuisines and more choices than the old, “white with fish, red with meat” rule.

Take a look at the advertising you see directed at wine consumers. What is it saying to the average wine buyer? What could it be saying better? And can you re-focus your own marketing and merchandising to fill the gap that the producers aren’t?