Generics under fire

28 August, 2009

Leading suppliers have criticised generic marketing bodies for ignoring branded

wine in their promotional campaigns and losing touch with what consumers want


The accusations came just weeks after Australian Vintage told OLN it was pulling

funding for Wine Australia’s marketing campaign amid concerns that it has failed

to address its commercial objectives.

PLB’s managing director Peter Darbyshire has added his voice to the debate, criticising the generics’ focus on expensive wines and calling for a marketing rethink.

He said: “The wine industry has an overarching duty to bring consumers into wine. The generics are a prime collator of any activity. Do they need to think more strategically? Very definitely.

“All generic bodies want to bring consumers into more expensive categories. Consumers will continue to be attracted by the entry level. There’s far too much

focus on that dreaded word premiumisation. Wine is a commodity market.”

Steve Barton, joint director at Brand Phoenix, agreed that generics were not doing enough to target mainstream shoppers.

“Generics have to be on the money when it comes to how they represent their country. It has to be done with the reality of the consumer in mind. They are still too obsessed with talking about niche products, rather than all the categories, including commercial brands.”

Another leading supplier added that the bodies must change in response to the credit crunch, saying: “Consumers are really hard-pressed. We’ve all got to engage with keeping people in the wine market at the moment, before talking about the nuances of wine.

“Look at the companies who are driving investment in the category. Those are the very products the generics want to ignore. It’s infuriating.”

But Wines of Chile director Michael Cox denied accusations that the generics are

too focused on top-end wine at the expense of entry-level, branded wines.

“I don’t believe consumers are only interested in cheap wine. They’re being

offered cheap wine, but there’s a fundamental difference. If you offer people

cheap wine they will buy it and they will thank you for it. Actually many consumers are looking to be persuaded to be more adventurous.”

Cox defended the generics and the role they play in bringing value back into the

wine market.

“Chile, and the generics generally, must open people’s eyes to what else their country can do. We’re trying to put value into the market, not take it out.”

Challenging economic conditions mean all the generic bodies “will find their funding under increased pressure and more scrutiny in the future”, according to Wines of Argentina’s UK director James Forbes.

He maintained that Wines of Argentina “has kept its eye on the consumer”, rebuffing claims that the generics have lost touch with consumer demand.

Independent retailers have voiced their support for generics, saying that a broader marketing approach, including messages around regionality, is vital.

Danielle Freer, of Amps Fine Wine in Oundle, Cambs, said running country promotions with the support of generics was a big boost to her business.

Singling out New Zealand Winegrowers, Wines of South Africa and Wines from

Rioja as three of the best, she said: “These three send round-robin emails asking people to take part in promotions. They don’t cost a great deal of money and the generics provide promotional materials.”

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