According to Seth Godin, “There is too much clutter … because we’ve branded ourselves to death.”. The CMO should now be a “Chief Movement Officer”. “In short: don’t market — inspire, lead, tap into your brand’s passions and you’ll tap into consumers’ passions and build a small and committed following that will scale through word-of-mouth.”
Does this recommendation apply to wine brands? Wine brands usually try to build a large following. How does the “small and committed following” fit in? This type of following will become the leader of your (more or less) large community. One of the best examples of this kind of strategy is the Community page a fan of a brand can build on Facebook. Many brands are not mastering their Facebook page because they’d rather let their fans talk about them. It is the case of the champagne Krug, for example, with almost 10,000 fans talking freely about their favorite beverage. Whether you like it or you don’t does not really matter: the brand can always get back its brand name and start maintaining its own page.
Is it better for the brand? If there is a conversation between the fan and the brand, it is great. But unfortunately, most of the time, when the brand creates its own page, this is one of those long monologue on what they’re doing, what’s happening and how great they are. very few brands are good at engaging with their consumers. They don’t “tap in their brand’s passion”.
In spite of this rather poor communication strategy, according to Graham Holter, in the latest issue of Meininger’s IWB, “brands beat terroir”. His conclusion is the result of a Wine Intelligence recent research on how consumers perceive origins vs. brand. One of the most striking case is Lindemans: in 2006, the Australian brand Lindemans was converted to a multi-origin one. Lindemans is now 9th in the Nielsen list of top brands with sales growth for 2008-2009 of 11.1%. QED? Mostly. According to Wine Intelligence study that questioned 8,400 regular wine drinkers in eight countries (US, UK, Quebec, English-speaking Canada, the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland and Australia), the favorite brands were Yellow Tail (mostly in the US), Blossom Hill, Jacob’s Creek, Gallo Family Vineyards and Wolf Blass. More troubling, in most cases cases, consumers said they did not have a favorite brand. Does it mean that consumers see little difference between various brands?
I would consider this hypothesis as the sad sign of lack of interaction and engagement between the brand and the consumer. Can a wine drinker be passionate about a brand that tastes about the same as the next one and does not talk to him/her? Not really… We are branded to death but some brands are signing their death by standing out of the general conversation.