Wine is down 4% in volume in the past year (Nielsen, year to October 11) although value sales are up 1% to £5.5 billion.
Blossom Hill is the UK’s number two brand, but is down 4.8% in volume and 2.9% in value to £241.7 million (Nielsen).
Brand manager Katie Jones told OLN that it is releasing new lines, ramping up social media marketing and simplifying descriptions of the liquid in a bid to arrest the decline. She said: “Wine is having a fairly hard time because younger consumers are dropping out. It is not doing a good enough job of identifying with a younger consumer. We need to change that and help people realise that wine is not just for their mums.”
Diageo is rolling out Blossom Hill Belle Blush in 2015 in an effort to target 25 to 45-year-old women.
Jones said: “We need to give them a different proposition, something their mums don’t drink. On the packaging we are talking in language they understand, using words such as zingy, fresh, crisp and juicy.
No bouquets of this or floral aromas of that. We have not used traditional cues with the pack. We want to take the scariness out of wine.”
Blossom Hill returned to TV screens after a long absence last summer and the plan is to bring the ads back in 2015.
“We took cues from cider and tried to make the ad more relevant to today,” Jones said. “We made it less girly. We need to increase reach and penetration as we compete with Hardys and Echo Falls. TV is a big part of that, as is social media.”
Jones also revealed that Diageo is lobbying the grocers to merchandise wine by taste rather than by colour, country, region and grape.
She applauded the efforts of Morrisons with its Taste Test, and said she has noticed the likes of Sainsbury’s experimenting, but admits that getting them to overhaul their wine sections is a daunting battle.
“It’s not happening yet, but I think in future they will take note and change it,” she said. “An average consumer won’t know that two wines from different countries are similar unless they are next to each other.”
Another challenge Blossom Hill faces in building up the brand is competition from own- label, according to Jones.
She said: “It’s in growth and branded is in decline. It makes it difficult for US wines to break into higher price points.
“It’s very hard to stretch above £6 because own-label has set the benchmark. But we know brands can drive three times as much volume at a higher price point. It’s been tough but it feels like brands are coming through now.”