Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Wine Marketing 101: Convince me to buy your wine

Wine labels that stand out win in the liquor store

Literally every time I am in a wine shop I am completely flabbergasted and bewildered to see the hundreds or perhaps thousands of wines eagerly waiting to find a home, similar to dogs at the humane society.  But, like some of those dogs, the wines just don't make a good impression or draw you into their charming personality.  I'm not looking for a wine that humps your leg or begs and does tricks, but I am looking for a reason to try something new.  

Reality check.  Most of the time you're faced with a scene similar to the one pictured above without shelf talkers or anyone that has the time or the knowledge to help recommend a selection that they think you will enjoy.  After your eleven second interaction with the "wine clerk" and the customary "what kind of wine do you like" open-ended question, you're discouraged and disconnected.  You want to try something new.  You want a new tasting experience, so how do you decide what to try?   Wine marketing 101 should have a huge influence on your choice.  I'm going to share with you some success stories and some real wine marketing misses.

Just when I thought the garage sale style display of wines pictured above couldn't get any worse, I was proven wrong.   If you walked into this wine shop not knowing anything about the wines, which one would draw your interest?   "I'll try the one with the boring white label, please."

Boring wine labels equals boring wine shopping
I would walk in, roll my eyes, turn around and never go back.  Is this the generic wine store?

Of course, white wine labels aren't the evil here.  Creativity, or lack thereof, is what is lacking.  Don't get me wrong.  If you're Scarecrow and command $600 or more per bottle, then you don't give a crap about what anyone thinks of your label.  Cult wines could probably scribe the poop emoji on the bottle and wine fans would buy it anyway.  But cult wines (insert eye roll here) are another blog post for another time and 99% of wines on the market can't pull off this label.  Or at least, they shouldn't.

Scarecrow Wine:  Is the simple label better?
For the crazy prices that Scarecrow brings, they can put anything on the bottle that they want.

While I love for a wine label to stand out and wave at you like a crazed commuter trying to hail a New York cab, it has to be done smartly.  Don't look desperate.  Don't get too cute.  And, don't turn off half of your demographic with a stupid name because you thought you were funny, empowering or maybe just scarred after a relationship gone wrong.   I give you..........Bitch wine.  In the early 2000's, twenty-something and early thirty-something women were buying this wine up by the case, proudly displaying it in their three bottle silver wine rack on the kitchen counter and telling everyone that it was their "favorite wine" and how they "can relate to it".  After people tasted it and found out it was not good wine, the popularity quickly waned and people were trying to give away the plonk as gifts or adding it to the stew or sauce of the day.   Lesson learned?  Shock factor is good for quick sales and may even become viral (in today's terms), but it isn't sustainable.

Very popular at first, but now just a novelty.  Isn't that a bitch?

What makes a good wine label?  Flashing lights?  A bottle shaped like Kim Kardashian's butt?   No.  Let me start by saying that I personally am not a very creative person.  I recently painted a 50 year old pot with my daughter and I thought I was the DIY king of the year.  I might be exaggerating a bit, but I can't stress to you enough that I really don't have an eye for design, whether it's fancy emails, interior decorating or wine labels.   Hell, I keep changing the look of my blog because I just don't know what's cool or what is appealing to people.  I digress.  What I'm trying tos tell you here is that sometimes you need a second set of eyes - or a third.  Or a fourth.  Winemakers are some of the most talented people in the world.  They create white and red masterpieces that we adore, but that doesn't mean that they can get you to buy their wine because people may never pull it off of the shelf.

If you aren't creative, hire or borrow someone that is.  Ummmm, what color is this wine?

Build a brand.  Even if it's quirky - especially if it's quirky.  Make it memorable but make it fit what you're doing.   The folks at Mad Housewife wines started off with products that scores of housewifes could relate to, but it went beyond that.   These wines were for anyone who hated doing laundry, who didn't feel the need to be perfect or have a neat-as-a-pin house or manicured nails every day.  They even took marketing to Marketing 102 by labeling everything with colorful Mad Housewife pictures and logos including tchotchkes that included, among other things, kitchen gadgets like rubber scrapers.  They were building a brand.  And then it wasn't good enough.  Maybe they tried to grow too quickly?  Maybe they lost their identity.  Whatever it was, it resulted in new labels that weren't as appealing, lost the story in the translation and now you can find the wine on Amazon of all places.  

Mad Housewife WInes:  The story of a confused brand
Housewife wines was on a roll and then they fell off of their ironing board.

All is not in vain.   There are thousands of winners and hundreds of stunners in the wine label game of life.   These are labels that are innovative, eye catching, memory-jerking, clever and just darn good marketing.   Let's pay homage to those who understand how to get you to shell out your hard earned money for their juice.  Heck, with a solid bottle and clever label, you can probably get an extra 20% for that bottle over a boring, passe label and bottle.

Mollydooker wines:  The wine and the original wine labels are created by winemaker and owner Sarah Marquis.  The labels are entertaining, animated, welcoming, tell a story....and they're all personal to her.  Marketing costs money.  But not selling your wines costs even more.  

Mollydooker WIne display: They get an A+ in marketing
Check out the Mollydooker Wine labels.  Winner winner, chicken dinner!

Wines that jog a memory from a favorite time in your life or from your childhood are sure to get a second look from you while shopping for some new juice.  I really love the Cannonball Wine label (despite the fact that I can't swim and have a fear of water that goes over my head).  You get what I'm trying to say here, right?   Maybe if this wine label was of kids playing war I'd be really into it!

Cannonball Wine label - a reminder of simpler times
This label will remind you of summer camp and you'll be telling stories around this bottle.

I like wines that are steeped in tradition and are iconic by their name, reputation, quality and look.  This is the case with Dom Perignon.  While the quality of the Champagne has varied from year to year, most would agree that overall it is still one of most recognized wine brands in the world.  A few years back, DP came out with an Andy Warhol inspired series of bottles that took the wine world by storm.  I love the idea and the look.  And I love the fact that this is the only Warhol-inspired artwork that I'll ever be able to afford.  Smart marketing!  Create an exclusive or limited edition label and sell the crap out of it, despite how it tastes.  (And I'm not saying this vintage is bad).

Dom Perignon bottles that Andy Warhol would love
Colorful.  Smart.  Limited.   Collectors are required to buy these, right?

Two of my favorite wine labels of all time are Chateau Mouton Rothschild.  Here is a beautiful (overpriced) wine that displays some of the most original and beautiful wine labels ever.  And they really understand marketing, even if it is very understated.  You have to understand that this producer could have a seventy-three cent wine marketing budget and they would still have money left at the end of the year.   This wine is a first growth Bordeaux that everyone and their brother wants, it's incredibly expensive, it has name recognition and they throw beautiful labels at you.  I'd challenge that a bottle of this never makes it to the trash.  I bet there are thousands of CMR candles throughout France and the rest of the world.

Chateau Mouton Rothschild label
A very overpriced wine, but the complete package and a marketing home run.

Opus One is a label that cleverly depicts the winery's founders, Robert Mondavi and Baron Phillipe de Rothschild in a singular portrait.   Both of these wine pioneers were easily recognized and whether it was a brilliant marketing approach or vanity that brought this label into fruition, it works.  And the label doesn't waiver to this day, despite the fact that both men have since gone to the vineyard in the sky and the winery is owned by a massive beverage conglomerate.  

Opus One WInery: Two wine pioneers
Maybe the label should change to the Constellation Brands logo ..... or a pile of cash?

Innovation.  I love it.  I embrace it.  And now, with technology, some very creative techies bring us the Living Wine Labels.  These are interactive wine labels with the free LWL app.  It's not only innovative but also entertaining.  If marketed correctly, we will be seeing more of these in the American market (the French will not embrace this) in the future.  Then, we can all be like our kids with our faces planted in our phones and we will forget how to talk to each other.  But then again, we can speak to each other through the wine.  Cheers!

19 Crimes Wine labels talk to you through the free app
The future of the wine label is interactive labels.  QR codes, say bye bye!

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