by Matt Eamer
Is tradition and the 'classic wine experience' holding the wine trade back? Whilst at the London Wine Fair 2019 I took time out from client meetings to attend the Innovation Zone industry briefing hosted by Andrew Catchpole. With Andrew Nunney (Accolade Wines), Muriel Chatel (Borough Wines) and Rebecca Davis (CyT-UK) on the panel it was a lively and informative discussion. So what did we learn? Below I’ve summarised the key points...
Firstly the wine industry isn’t in trouble, plenty of innovation and exciting products were on display throughout the exhibition - from MiniVino to chocolate matched to wine; new ideas, packs and approaches were visible everywhere. With 70% UK household penetration wine is here to stay, but it’s a fragmented experience with no one brand holding a large share and plenty to learn from spirit and beer market.
So how can creativity and innovation enhance the wine experience and perhaps attract back consumers who have moved to different drinks?
Move beyond the product and instead consider why people drink.
Become more relevant to the occasions first and match your brands authentic story to that occasion. As Muriel said “there’s more to life than wine”, from sharing good times with friends, relaxing and enjoying food. Wine can still be the perfect fit for those occasions but needs to consider how to stay relevant. The panel also highlighted how people are looking to maximise their experiences in less time; they are now less interested in high consumption (bingeing) and more on quality drinks enhancing shared experiences.
Learning from Gin and Craft Beers
The Gin and craft beer sector is far more open to product and packaging innovation from niche flavour combinations to exciting pack designs this approach connects more with consumers. Whilst the wine trade worried for many years about moving from cork to screwcap, the end consumer was never really bothered. They desire a taste profile, a serving and a pack which made sharing easy; and a story they could retell to friends and family. Sometimes the wine language and identity (whilst full of stories to tell) uses too-much jargon that makes the ‘wine club’ feel exclusive and unwelcoming. Gin and Craft Beers certainly don’t have this dusty historic weight and therefore can embrace new ideas and ways to deliver their product.
From gin and beer subscription clubs, to small in-can servings there is plenty of ways a drink product can be distributed which perhaps matches audience interests and needs more.
Andrew Catchpole even suggested ‘postable wine subscriptions’ why not represent wine so it be tasted and tried via a monthly - through the letterbox subscription!
Chink Anxiety - What are the barriers to wine?
‘Chink Anxiety’ was a fascinating insight shared by Andrew Nunney of Accolade Wines - where consumers worry about bottles breaking in their bag! So much so that whilst the trade may look down on ‘Wine on Tap’ (aka bag in a box) the consumer may feel safer with a more durable product. Retailers are absolutely open to packaging innovation, indeed smaller packs are experiencing triple digit growth and ‘on the go’ cans need to get into the chiller section for consumers to grab and go. So don’t be afraid to move away from selling wine in heavy (breakable) glass bottles.
From Wine to Drink - be playful
Finally the panels touched upon the idea of embracing playfulness, don’t worry about what a ‘wine’ product has to be. Instead feel free to define new drink products which stretch boundaries. Throughout the Wine Fair their were examples of this from a Gin and Rose fusion to CyT’s own O’jos Light & Soul brand; vegan wine to no/low sector. There is plenty that could be done to break down barriers and think drink more than wine...
Thanks to the London Wine Fair, the Innovation Zone and panelists, our F&B clients and our creative team.