Wine marketing tip: Be specific about the varietal

30Apr10

While I was at the grocery store last weekend, I noticed several new wines featured on an endcap. One in particular had an attractive label design and a price tag in the $9 range, so I figured it was something decent like a cabernet or malbec. Upon closer inspection, though, all I could find was the phrase “red wine”. Apparently, the manufacturer felt that was all the detail they needed.

I totally understand the push towards simplicity in product design and marketing. After all, maybe the target audience for the wine I saw consists primarily of novice buyers. Perhaps these people start by deciding if they want a red or white wine, and then they choose the particular wine based on who has the prettiest label.

There are several problems with this approach from a merchandising perspective. To see the issues, let’s consider two groups of buyers. The first group doesn’t know a merlot from a malbec from a cabernet. For them, saying the wine is red should be enough, and they’ll likely ignore any extra details about the exact varietal. Next, think about the savvier buyer. This group won’t even consider a wine unless there’s some info on the varietal right on the label. Fail to provide this detail, and you’ve lost their attention and spending power.

If we assume that most buyers fit into one of these two groups, the only logical approach is to always include the specific varietal on the label. Sure, you can still call it a “red table wine” or whatever suits your marketing strategy. But don’t forget to provide the added detail of whether it’s a cabernet or malbec or carmenere or what have you, perhaps in smaller text. Novice buyers will ignore the extra info, but it will make a world of difference for those who know what they’re looking for.



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