In the kingdom of the blind tasting

The wine industry has more in common with The X Factor than it does with The Voice

For those of you who watched any of The Voice last year, I wonder if you were struck – as I was – by the similarity between the programme and the process of blind tasting which plays such an important role in our industry.

If you are unfamiliar with the series, all you need to know is that it was an attempt to judge contestants’ voices in isolation from their appearance. I thought the intention laudable: after all, there must be great singers out there who fail to realise their potential because they don’t look the part.

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The diversity and complexity of the wine category: friend or foe?

Lessons from other categories and the search for the sweet spot

I have in front of me a packet of potato crisps, sea salt flavoured, in which the salt comes specifically from Maldon in Essex.

It’s a perfect example of how the potato crisp sector has reinvented itself over the past decade. It now has layers of complexity which are astonishing to people like myself, who can remember when even smoky bacon seemed a little edgy. The once humble crisp is now at one with the zeitgeist; there’s provenance and naturalness, and vegetarian options, and for all I know there may even be a biodynamic brand out there.

And the potato crisp is not alone in reinventing itself. In fact it’s difficult to think of any food and beverage sector which has not moved in a similar direction over the past decade. Coffee, tea, soft drinks, yogurt, breakfast cereals … the list goes on.

So what is going on here? Well I don’t feel it’s that complicated. Adding complexity of this kind, in the form of premium range extensions, has added value and therefore profitability to these categories.

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