An instantly recognisable wine brand of the 1970’s, Blue Nun was perhaps the first wine that many people in the UK ever tried outside of a church. Black Tower and Mateus Rose played a part, as Blue Nun led the way becoming the UK’s best selling wine. Unfortunately, Blue Nun ran the risk of being stuck in the 1970’s with older drinkers moving to reds and drier whites and younger people choosing new world varietals.
Blue Nun, at that time a German Liebfraumilch, looked set to be remembered as a thing of the past, and a pub quiz answer based on the musical ability of its bottles on the The White Album. Blue Nun set about re-branding, and at the same time it changed its product.
A detergent may have tried a ‘new and improved’ sticker and introductory price offers, but Blue Nun wanted to reposition at a higher point of quality. In 1997 Blue Nun’s owners, Langguth, changed the wine. It is now a Qualitatswein rather than a Liebfraumilch, with 10% alcohol by volume (wine label) and is drier in style with 30 % Riesling and 28 g/l of sugar rather than 42 g/l.
However, Blue Nun has come back to the market with more than one wine. Blue Nun’s re-launch was supported by an advertising campaign, as part of the strategy Blue Nun had identified young women in their late 20’s as its target. It could therefore target its marketing spend finely, choosing advertising in print media that appealed to that sector. They did not however rely solely on advertising, employing an intensive public relations campaign designed to get influential people to try Blue Nun. The biggest issue faced according to Marketing Director, Armin Wagner is getting people to try the wine to overcome their pre-conceptions and make a decision based on the beverage itself – “We have to get the wines in front of people and simply say ‘try this'”.
The bottle design took advantage of new trends and changed to a blue glass for the Qualitatswein and opted for the Bordeaux style bottles for varietals. Keeping the Blue Nun motif across all labels gives cautious consumers the opportunity to try new styles of wine within the comfort of a trusted brand, opening up new sales opportunities.Blue Nun’s campaign was supported by Wines of Germany, the German wine marketing board, who were encouraging people to re-think German wines with the slogan “If you think you know German wine – drink again”.
Their campaign appears to be successful. Retail sales of German wine above £6 have grown dramatically (+89%) in the last three years, well above the general increase for wine sales in this price bracket (+16%) in the same period’. The upcoming World Cup in Germany is seen as a further opportunity to sell the UK public on German wine, with retailers like Sainsbury’s and Tesco putting effort into selling more.
The campaign so far has been a success. Blue Nun now claims to be selling more wine in the UK than ever before although its market share is much smaller. Blue Nun sells 12.5m bottles world-wide, and in 2005 5m of those were sold in the UK, at an 11% annual growth rate. In May 2004, Blue Nun continued it’s re-branding campaign by launching a new ready-to-drink beverage called Slinky to compete in the pub and club ‘alcopop’ space.