There is not a wine producing country in the world where the following conversation doesn’t take place: ‘is it better to sell your wine through promoting its provenance or its brand name?’ In the first case, if the geographical provenance is strong (e.g. Bourgogne – like the photo in this article), then you might not even need a brand name (e.g. ‘Crazy Horse) since the communal brand will sell itself. In order to get there though, it is a long road indeed. In the second case, you have to invest everything in your own brand and pray that it becomes a recognisable name. On top of all that, you also have constant advice from marketing professionals who try and implement successful strategies from other industries, which very rarely work here.
This was the case a few years back at a Master of Wine conference, when a big record company executive tried to draw parallels between the two worlds and came to the conclusion that the wine industry failed at connecting its product with Elvis or Nirvana, therefore losing out on the youth market.
First of all we have to draw a line under this myth about the bad relationship between wine and young people and therefore its out of date image. Eighteen year olds just don’t like wine and there is no way to convince them otherwise; anyone who has kids knows this to be the truth! Changing its communication strategy and adopting ‘modern’ marketing techniques (we’ve seen what’s happened in the case of alcopops, need we say more), wine is not only not going to win over non-drinkers but it will risk alienating its core market who drinks wine not only because they like its taste, but because they’ve bought into its philosophy as a whole. This is the element that wine producers would mostly like to communicate even though they are not allowed to do so in many occasions (e.g in France with its horrific legal framework).
The reality is that wine has been selling itself through the ages and to people of all races and cultures in more or less the same way. The much discussed differences between ‘New’ and ‘Old’ wine seem negligible when one moves away from the fine print and focuses on the day to day existence of the producers and the consumers themselves. It’s also a fact that many of the suggested marketing techniques seem old hat before they’ve even been put in place. Why should anyone take them to heart and betray what’s authentically theirs?What many of these do-gooders forget, as wine is not part of their daily lives, is that it is at its core an agricultural product. Their recommendations seem to want to dismantle the sacred connection that wine has with its provenance; its most valuable asset as provenance is always unique. Wine producers the world over understand their product and follow their instinct by promoting their wines with the provenance as their USP despite their methods being considered antiquated by many ‘experts’.
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