The importance of self-regulation
In a recent Harpers (Sept 6th) Miles Beale, the CEO of the WSTA, set out “a series of fresh challenges to the drinks industry following the success of its campaign to prevent the introduction of minimum unit pricing on alcohol”. He urged the industry not to “rest on its laurels” and to be more “innovative and responsive” to the challenges we face. The industry must prepare itself, he added, for a ban on below-cost selling, at the rate of duty plus VAT, which is likely to be introduced by the government within the next year.
Not all wine can be fine wine – so our marketing shouldn’t pretend that it is
In a recent Harpers (July18) there is an interview with Adam Boita of Pernod Ricard on the recent launch of the limited edition Absolut Unique. He notes that this is probably “the first time a drinks manufacturer has ever been able to produce 4 million uniquely numbered individually artistic bottles on a production line”. Just think about that for a minute: 4 million uniquely packaged bottles.
As a wine man, I noticed something missing in the article. Not only was no mention made of the product within the beautifully designed bottles, but even the word “vodka” made no appearance in the 1,000-word piece. Now that is what I call an icon brand. We don’t need to be reminded that Absolut is a premium vodka, or indeed a vodka at all, because that is already our perception. More generally, the assumption is that the target market for Absolut is likely to be more engaged by investment in unique bottles than anyone banging on about how it is produced or tastes.
Now let’s turn to wine, and a piece in The Drinks Business (July 25) entitled “Liquid dreams: the Lafites of the future”. A quote from Lily Dimitriou of Tsantali Vineyards sets the scene. “Luxury brands combine craftsmanship, attention to detail, pedigree and paucity, allowing the buyer to become the owner of an exclusive experience”. Fair enough: yet tucked away in this statement we can observe a crucial difference between the marketing of many premium wines and that of spirits.