NB : This is a slightly extended version of a piece which appeared recently on Harpers.co.uk. This is linked to my previous post on regional branding.
At the recent International Sparkling Wine Symposium held at Denbighs I was facilitating a session on the way forward for English fizz and made a throwaway comment that for all its success producers should be wary of seeing Prosecco as a role model. I noted that, while it has certainly captured the imagination of a large swathe of the wine market, I doubted that many consumers can name individual brands or are aware of the difference between DOC and DOCG Prosecco. This implies that they will tend to be drawn to the cheapest Prosecco that they find acceptable. It would be fair to say that my comment was not universally popular with Prosecco producers in the room.
Subsequent to the conference Prosecco sales have soared to new heights with various major retailers reporting astronomic growth over Christmas. So remarkable is the success that some commentators believe that the sparkling wine sector in the UK will never be the same again: a critical mass of consumers have moved on from Champagne and won’t be looking back.
They may well be right but either way I still hold by my concern. Because the consumer is not being given enough encouragement to trade up, returns may well be disappointingly low for too many producers and certainly not commensurate with the success of the category