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Wine Vision Live News Blog: Paul Schaafsma's vision for wine brand building

Published:  18 November, 2013

6pm: The key to building successful wine brands comes down to understanding category data, consumer behaviour and empowering your staff to make decisions and work more effectivley with the with their key trade customers, according to the UK head of Accolade Wines, Paul Schaafsma, speaking at today's Wine Vision global wine conference.

Those are the key challenges facing a global wine brand company like Accolade Wines when looking to invest in existing brands and which brands they look to bring to market.

Schaafsma pointed to UK off-trade data that shows the overall wine category is losing market share to other drinks categories, most noticeably cider and RTD products. Although it is still the largest BWS category its 36% share is down from 37% which equates to £115 million in off-trade sales.

Of particular concern, he said, was the number of new drinkers that were not coming in to the wine category at all, but instead preferring to drink the new wave of sweeter, stylish ciders and RTDs on the market. Not only did it mean new consumers were not coming in to the category it meant they were likely to delay moving to wine until they are older.

It was important, therefore, he said, that big wine brand companies looked to develop brands, like Echo Falls, that act like a "bridge" for consumers to move from the sweeter, introductory drink categories and in to the larger wine market. If they don't they risk losing them as potential future consumers.

For wine brands to be really successful they need to be more than just about the wine, but be seen as a brand that is also associated with their lifestyle. Which is why Echo Falls has worked closely with partnerships and sponsorships at fashion shows and music festivals.

He said any business serious about building wine brands in the UK has to work with the Big Four supermarket chains. This is not "boutique Britain" he warned. He pointed to the fact 81p in every £1 spent in the UK off-trade goes through to the major supermarkets.


If wine brands are going to get anywhere near the consumer impact of a Nike or an Apple then they need to understand that being social is not just not about marketing it is the new way of doing business, according to advertising executive Stephen Woodord of Lexis agency at today's Wine Vision global wine conference in London.

He said the amount of fans of Facebook or followers of Twitter of major consumer brands were astronomical compared to even the most successful wine brands. Not only did it allow them to communicate more directly with their consumers it was having a fundamental impact on the way it did business. Their customers were now involved in helping them to develop new products and shape the look of their own advertising.

For example, confectionery brand Skittles has 25 million likes on Facebook, Nike 19 million, and Starbucks 35 million whereas Moet & Chandon has 396,000 likes although it was the highest performing wine brand in the Interbrand Top 100 international brands chart.

The most successful wine Facebook page is YellowTail with close to 1 million likes but this relies less on wine language but uses colours and looks more like a design site than a traditional wine page.

He admitted that advertising executives like himself had failed in recent years to really understand the power of brand building. Instead of creating adverts that require the viewer to really think and engage with what they are seeing, the best advertising is the campaigns that connect with consumers on an emotional level, on gut feel.

He pointed to the current John Lewis Christmas advert as having had enormous impact in that it was all about hitting our emotional hot spots about Christmas.

He urged brand owners to spend at least 60% of any advertising spend on tapping in to connecting with their audience through emotions and 40% more on rational messaging.


The wine industry can learn a great deal from how the restaurant and food sector has found ways to cut through to the masses by connecting with consumers by promoting artisan and authentic food styles and restaurant trends, according to wine consultant, Paul Henry, chair of Wine Vision, London's biggest ever wine conference which opened this afternoon.

Henry, who runs the Australian wine consultancy, Wine Hero, kicked off the three day event at London's London Museum by setting out what he sees as the key challenges facing the global wine industry that need to be addressed at Wine Vision.

He said the agenda for Wine Vision showed the industry is good at knowing what issues and what questions it needs to ask. The big problem it faces is not knowing what the answers to those questions are.

He said the way in which the restaurant sector has transformed the way we eat and what styles of food we want to buy over the last two to three years was a big lesson for the wine trade. He urged the sector to look at how restaurateurs and food companies have been able to influence mass consumer opinion way. In some ways, he argued, food has become as radical, as inspiring as disruptive and as political as music has been.

He spoke of the 3.0 revolution taking place with food, particularly Asian food which is on course to replace Meditteranean food as the dominant food culture around the world, including Europe.

He questioned how far the global wine industry can continue to use agricultural practices that are "exhausting" the land and said it was vital the industry took the issue of climate change seriously.

Energy and the search for new energy sources to help in global winemaking was another critical issue and he predicted a time when wine companies and producers would become energy players themselves.

He also looked at how far public companies can operate in wine where the economics of wine investment and mechanics of return are so difficult. He wondered whether the best wine businesses were family companies with a longer term view.

Ultimately he said the industry has to look at sustainability. Not just in terms of the environment, but in making a basic profit. Everything, he argued, needs to revolve around making a profit.

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