There have been successes in marketing white spirits, champagne and branded wines to build sales. Why can’t the Sherry market learn?
White spirits, especially vodka, have been increasing their sales significantly since 1999. Global sales of major branded Vodkas have increased 38.8% by volume during between 1999 and 2004 as younger people opt for spirits instead of beer. Branded gin has increased sales just 2.7% in the same time frame, but Bombay Sapphire has grown 41.6% Vodka’s ‘mixability’ makes it a perfect base for cocktail, making it palatable for people who don’t much care for the taste of alcohol, and brands have positioned themselves well in this area, encouraging consumers to ask for a brand name rather than a generic drink. Bacardi and Coke started the trend decades ago, but a glance at a cocktail menu sees brands increasing in dominance.
Brands in the white spirit market have increased sales by concentrating their mar
keting on purity, authenticity and originality. Beefeater London Gin has increased sales by 30% in Spain utilising a ‘Be Unique Be Passionate Be Yourself’ campaign and now a ‘Be creative’ element. This has moved it from its traditional staid image and opened up a younger market.
Champagne sales in 2002 were the highest since 1999 (when millennium fever boosted sales) and the third highest ever (Just Drinks Management Briefing March 2003).
Champagne buyers exhibit strong brand loyalty, although they may opt for different brands for different occasions, for example family celebrations, work celebrations, parties or romantic moments.
Champagne has carefully positioned itself in the UK as a premium product, available to all, resulting in a sales increase of 50% between 1999 and 2004 and Mintel expects the market to be worth £1.2bn by 2007. ‘Champagne is still seen as a drink for special occasions, but to grow the market the industry needs to perform a delicate balancing act,’ Mintel says. ‘The challenge is to democratise champagne without shedding its long-standing and carefully-cultivated image as the finest sparkling wine in the world.’This is a delicate balancing act as the makers of Cristal Champagne have found. Their wine is the drink of choice of US rap artists, providing free product placement opportunities in music video and movies, however, they have no control over how the product is portrayed. Asked how he felt when rapper 50 cent poured Cristal over his dancers bottoms Cristal’s Managing Director, Frederic Rouzaud, commented “I would prefer to drink it, they should drink it.”
Champagne is a brand in itself, and has worked hard as a region to increase volume whilst maintaining quality and the impression of luxury and exclusivity. White Spirits have worked hard on educating consumers about the history, or if necessary myth, of their products, to encourage new consumers to try the product, as well as introducing new ways of enjoying it.
Both of these options are available to Sherry producers and marketeers, let’s see them in action.