One of the fun aspects of writing for this blog is the chance to step outside of my marketing world and learn more about how other industries market to their unique target markets. If it weren’t for the chance encounter earlier in the year with a RosenblumVintners Cuvée bottle of wine I would have missed a chance to do just that.
I wrote a post earlier in the year about my discovery of a “peel-off” label (I’ve since learned that the correct name is a “Wine Find” label). The post drew quite a bit of attention peeking not only my interest, but the interest of many readers about how a winery markets their brand. Wanting to learn more about how wineries approach marketing, I sent an email to Roseblum Cellars and Michael Kohne, their Director of Marketing, was nice enough to respond and take the time for an interview.
Many thanks to Michael for his thorough answers and great insight into the world of wine! Here was our interview:
Michael, thank you for taking the time for an interview! I appreciate it. I’m a big fan of Rosenblum wines and have been looking forward to learning more about your marketing efforts. Without giving away all of your marketing plan strategies, could you give an overview of how you market a wine or winery for those who aren’t familiar with marketing in your industry?
“Ultimately great wine is and should be about what is in the bottle. This being said, with so many bottles available in the marketplace we marketers have to target consumers by conveying a message of quality (so those consumers choose your wine over the competitors). Wines produced domestically have certain consumer indicators like the grape variety(ies), vintage, regions, etc conveyed through print. Outside of those qualifiers producers must package the wine to evoke their message. Label shapes, fonts, images (such as a winery icon), paper stock, foiling, colors and additional text-based classifications (i.e. Reserve, Bottle Numbers, Estate Grown, etc) all help convey a story and should hopefully subconsciously market your brand.”
From a marketing standpoint, how do you go about deciding what a wine bottle will look like and how it will appeal to its drinkers?
“One has to acknowledge their target audience. Generally speaking, ‘grocery brands’ which look to move volume at lower prices have to stand out on a shelf. These brands look for pull through design and catchy names (and animals which these days seem the rage). While a boutique brand, with a small amount of wine to sell at higher prices, tend to focus on traditional and historical aspects likening their product to some great old-world Winery and generally have a less-is-more philosophy. At Rosenblum we have products that fit both categories and we have to create a different “feel” for each, while at the same time creating some consistency through the whole line so as not to dilute what one can do for the other in terms of brand loyalties.”
Can you tell us a little about the “wine find” label on your Vintners Cuvée that grabbed my attention and how you decided to implement that into your label design?
“Wine find is a tear-off portion of a wine’s back label that allows consumers to tangibly hold the wine’s exact information. This perforated portion is a particular feature that benefits a winery like Rosenblum where there are multiple bottlings of the same grape but use different vineyards, blends or proprietary names. Take for example Zinfandel where Rosenblum makes 20-some-odd bottlings, the winery was at a certain point receiving calls from all over the country inquiring about somehow acquiring (whether buying direct or through a local retailer) a certain wine which consumer had had at a restaurant. Of course only remembering that it was a Zinfandel our service department was not able to pinpoint the exact wine the costumer was searching for. Now, with the ‘wine find’ feature the winery is better ensured (on a retail level) to give the consumer better service by making sure they acquire (or get information on) the exact wine they’re inquiring about.”
Rosenblum Cellars produces over 40 different wines, including Zinfandel, Syrah and Petite Sirah varieties, to name a few. Will you be using the label for each variety or is there a certain market you’re appealing to and will only place it on certain bottles?
“The winery uses the ‘wine find’ technology (as it was printing technology that allowed this feature to be cost effective enough for the industry) on most all of there wines. The exception in our case pertains to our Reserves. At a certain point the consumer is savvy enough to know what he/she has purchase and if they are buying $45 to $55 bottles of wine ($100-$150 on various restaurant wine lists) then they are at the point of knowing what that wine is and have no problem communicating which wine it is that they want.”
What do you hope to accomplish by using part of your bottle for the peel-off “wine find” label? Are there goals and tracking methods you’ve attached to the effort?
“The winery feels the “wine-find” is a general service – both for our customer as well as internally. Currently we do not track “wine-find” instances, although we hear feedback from service and sales all the time. Of course, considering our production level (100K+ cases) my guess is that only a tiny percentage of folks have used “wine find” although that small percentage is better than nothing!”
Lastly, where do you see the wine bottle design going? Does the future hold more unique marketing efforts such as your label?
“The question of bottle design can only be answered by individual wineries and what they want to accomplish, as well as what consumers will allow to happen (via their buying power). Synthetic closures, waxed capsules, screw caps and wine in a box are just some of the packaging choices on the horizon. Some are better than others but again only if the consumer is going to buy the product will it make producers look to change. As for Rosenblum, we are fairly progressive. We recently changed labels in an effort to organize our vast portfolio, and also use only synthetic closures to avoid any TCH issues (a mold issue from corks, commonly referred to as “corkiness”, that taints wine). The synthetic corks we use are particularly advanced and come from a company called Nomacork, but now that is a whole other interview… “