Magazine article Marketing

Helen Dickinson on Retail: The Glass Is Half-Full for Battling Alcohol Brands

Magazine article Marketing

Helen Dickinson on Retail: The Glass Is Half-Full for Battling Alcohol Brands

Article excerpt

That rare night at home in front of the TV just wouldn't seem complete for me nowadays without a glass of wine - red, possibly Pinot Noir. And I am not alone. A growing number of women like me out there are apparently driving a massive boom in wine sales in the UK.

If women are honest, we are probably not the most sophisticated wine drinkers. But nor are we alcohol-obsessed ladettes. We are simply part of a growing part of society who are more European in their approach to wine, enjoying a glass or two over dinner or as part of the nightly wind-down process - after all it's good for us, isn't it?

All this was reflected in the recent research published by Mintel, which showed that UK wine sales have increased by 30% over the past five years.

The annual market is now worth more than pounds 7bn - the equivalent of more than 1bn litres of wine in a year.

Women have been doing their bit to drive up those numbers as we quaffed a mighty 600m litres during 2004. Seven out of every 10 of us say that we drink wine regularly. Analysts reckon the UK wine market will exceed pounds 10bn within five years. If is does, then women will be the key target for every marketer involved with wine brands.

With so much choice available in supermarkets, at local convenience stores and at the specialist wine merchants, differentiating a particular product is a challenge. Popular culture - and particularly TV and films - can have a real effect on wine purchasing habits, something indicative of a buying population that has little specialist knowledge of its own and can be easily swayed.

I read recently about the effect that Sideways - a film about two middle-aged men on a roadtrip through California's wine region - had on wine sales. Apparently, a character in the film eschews Merlot in favour of Californian Pinot Noirs. Since the film opened, various retailers in the UK have reported upswings in Pinot Noir sales of 10%-20%, while Merlot sales have been reported to be falling in the US.

If we are so easily led by popular culture, it is no surprise that major wine brands have moved into TV sponsorship, with Channel 4 showings of Friends (Jacob's Creek) and Will & Grace (Blossom Hill) as the most high-profile examples.

For brands that can make inroads into the British wine psyche, there are real rewards to be had. The growth in the UK market has been rapid but, by European standards, it is still a drop in the ocean. …

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