According to the Silicon Valley Bank’s annual state of the wine industry report, the premium wine segment in the US is expected to experience a sales growth of 9-13% in 2016. The industry defines premium or fine wines based on price range falling between $13 to 19 and graduates to ultra-premium from $20+.
The trend towards premium and away from volume is driven by three main factors:
First, while the Boomer generation still has the largest consumer footprint on the wine industry, research shows their consumption is slowly decreasing. Meanwhile, Millennial wine drinkers are becoming increasingly educated and sophisticated about wine. Thus, as Millennials continue to age and earn more income they will graduate to wines of hire price points. Related to that, the economic recovery in the last few years means wine drinkers have more disposable income and may be more likely to splurge on a premium wine. Finally, on the supply side interest in producing volume wine has been decreasing. In part due to environmental and climactic changes, winemakers are shifting to a quality over quantity approach.
But what exactly is a “Premium” wine or wine brand?
While defining a ‘Premium’ wine based on price range is a neat and easy way to categorize products, the label does not consider brand perception from the eyes of the consumer.
Consumer opinions are often driven by relative perceptions – someone graduating from a table wine might think that the $10/bottle wine is premium, while someone accustomed to drinking $50/bottle will look at the $20 range and say that is not premium. But through marketing, it is possible to establish wine brands as ‘Premium’ (beyond its price point) through the use of strategic PR and social media practices.
“Premium” is cohesive, experiential and feels valuable.
In our definition, premium is defined by perception. At CreativeFeed we help our clients to change the perception of their brand in the eyes of their potential consumers by making their brand relevant and contemporary.
To start, we identify the key pillars that make a particular product premium – authenticity and quality. We work to refine the brand’s look and feel, and then we create a language, tonality, and visual narrative that carries across our integrated strategy. This communicative cohesion is the necessary foundation for attributes that will give a brand its “Premium” value relative to the interests and lifestyle of the target consumer.
- Experiential – It is an experience that appeals to the senses and it feels indulgent. It’s the fine food and wine pairings, the beautiful product shots, and the dynamic settings that engage people. People want to enjoy looking at the content.
- Interesting – It is part of a story that keeps the audience’s attention, that keeps drawing people in, engaging with the brand and desiring to purchase the wines. It’s a one-of-a-kind story.
- Confident – It projects a feeling of intrinsic value – the creation of great wines often requires mastery and perfection in the production process. It is a great way to involve the audience in the process highlighting the winemaking craft and expertise.
- Authentic – It has remained committed to a vision and its brand ideals. Wines often come with its own stories and inspirations, remaining true to its roots enable the brand to grow without dilution.
- Quality – It is the overall consistent and obsessive attention to detail. The quality of the messaging and its delivery are clues into the quality of the wines.
These attributes need to be prevalent and aligned in the media strategy, on social media channels and through distribution.
In Media Relations: Three Key Actions
- To raise the image of a wine brand to “premium” level, we begin with establishing its credibility in quality. This means getting placements in wine trades/ food and wine media, such as Food & Wine Magazine, Bon Appetit, and VICE, endorsements by leaders and influencers in the food and wine spheres, tasting events and seminars, and interviews about the business. The wines are paired with expensive foods and beautiful settings that evoke the feelings of high-quality and enjoyment.
- After a certain level of trade saturation, the idea of premium can become part of a lifestyle. With placements in high-end lifestyle publications such as Town & Country, sponsorship of consumer experiences like Diner en Blanc, media product placements, and consumer media segments that focus on the enjoyment of the wine rather than the price associated with it.
- Maintaining media relations will require keeping an open line of communication between the brand and the press that wants to get to know the brand. A great place to start for managing smooth communication is developing a wine sampling program.
In Social Media: Three Necessary Elements
- The imagery has to look clear, professional, yet inviting and inclusive. It should feature the wines paired with beautiful foods and in interesting settings that gives hints of its cultural context. Images not of the wines should be relevant, clear and with a professional touch that carries the same premium feel.
- The copy needs to be relevant, use the correct wine terminology, have a steady tonality (whether it is educational or celebratory, etc.) and to use more sophisticated language. This also applies to content that is shared by the brand – content needs to be clean, well presented and often from highbrow publications. The copy rules even extend to comments. If an audience comment is extremely messy and grammatically or politically incorrect, it needs to be deleted instead of answered.
- Consistency applies to more than the feel of the imagery and tonality of the copy, it means that there should be creative and original posts on a consistent basis, and shares or reposts occasionally. Consistency means frequent but not overwhelming activity on social media. It also includes responsiveness. If the audience engages with the wine brand and has questions about the wines, a premium brand will be there to answer within a reasonable amount of time.