Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Is the grass greener?

Is wine marketing too conservative? How big is the lost market opportunity every year?

Huge nicely stokes the flames of this debate
here and here. My favorite suggestion, use more hotties in the marketing of wine to the 21-35 year-old demographic. Makes sense to me, works for beer right?

Then I come upon these U.S. market share figures recently released by the trade publication, Beer Marketer's Insights (BMI):

Let's see. Beer maintains a dominant, near two-thirds, market share. Spirits is also big-time and wine is hanging in there with some 12 to 13% of the U.S. market. Hmmm. But take a look at that 4-year trend. Beer slipping. Spirits improving and wine making big gains. The BMI
article goes on to describe a fear among the beer industry of "beer fatigue" in America.
"August Busch IV, president of Anheuser-Busch Cos. brewing unit, has said wine and spirits represent a threat to his company and the entire beer industry. Miller Brewing President Norman Adami said, 'The single biggest threat facing the American beer business today is the possibility that we will allow the American consumer to get bored with beer.'"
Clearly beer's underbelly is soft and time to make a strong move is ripe. If I was running the wine marketing show, I'd take this as my cue to do two things:
  1. For all high volume wines selling below $10 (which is the majority), turn up the volume. Shed the tired image and selectively copy what has historically worked for beer and spirits. Be cool. Be edgy. Be funny. Use hotties.
  2. Innovate. If the beer brain trust is worried about fatigue, maybe the Coors Light twins aren't the only answer. To take that quantum leap out of the 12% to 13% share of market, retreads won't cut it. Look at packaging (a la Sofia mini). Look at viral marketing. Look at trade promotions. Look at market segmentation for your premium brands (a la Starbucks and Chopin vodka).

If all this marketing is done correctly, this could be a fun and entertaining ride for wine lovers.