The implications of valuing inconsistency
My previous post ( Black Tower, Riesling and bananas ) discussed the difficulties wine marketers face given that most consumers tend to view varietals as brands.
However, as some of the comments on that post emphasised, the varietal conundrum is hardly the only complication in the field of wine branding. The focus of this post is regional or appellation branding.
The regional brand conundrum
One definition of a brand I use in the WSET Diploma Marketing Course is by Professor Philip Kotler, “A brand is a name, term, symbol or design, or a combination of these, intended to identify the goods or services of one seller, or group of sellers, and to differentiate them from those of competitors”. The italics are mine.
I use this definition to point out that, where producers in a wine-producing region get together to protect their proposition in law and then to promote their wines, they are effectively operating as a collective brand owner. This is hardly a controversial claim. We talk widely about “Brand” Australia, Chile or New Zealand et al, and over the years have lauded the success of the bodies promoting Rioja, Cotes du Rhone and others. Generic, or regional, brand promotion is right at the heart of the wine category.
Most consumers see regions and appellations as brands. They represent names that are part of the intricate (and extraordinarily confusing ) mosaic of images, status symbols and promises of performance that make up the wine category in their minds. The role of this element of the brand mix therefore appears to be relatively straightforward.
But regional branding I view as a more complex issue than varietal branding and it is equally influential I believe in our failure to persuade enough consumers to trade up