Evolving Drinks Brands

Evolving Drinks Brands banner

I recently read and shared an article in Forbes by Patrick Hanlon called, “Why Brands Must Evolve” that is so spot on that it has led to a number of interesting conversations in the past week with some of my clients and partners who own brands in beer, wine and spirits. As one who spends a lot of time thinking about new brands, as well as igniting established brands in new ways, Patrick’s thoughts really resonated with me. I don’t think there is a better industry than beverage to illustrate his points about what is going on with brands. Brand proliferation is happening across the board making “breaking through the clutter” ever more difficult. At the same time, the reason this is happening if fundamentally that there is demand for new brands. As I wrote in “RE: Is Craft Beer In A Bubble”, there is a big and growing market for new brands in beer, but also in wine and spirits. Not everyone will succeed and in fact many new brands will fail. To the big brand manager, the fundamental challenge has also never been so big – how do you keep a loyal following when your following gets gigantic. I think about an Iconic brand like Patron Tequila. I was a distributor for Patron as it passed between different sales companies and was a very difficult sell. Five years from the time it launched, Patron was doing about 55,000 cases. Now that is a nice little brand, but nothing would have screamed, “This brand is on fire!” Then, it did catch on fire and became the very symbol of luxury. Check out Patron case sales for the first 10 years:

Patron sales first 10 years

Patron is an amazing brand and continues to outsell all of the other super premium tequilas (and frankly all other spirits brands at $40/750ml bottle and higher). They have a huge and loyal following. However, as brand manager for Patron today, the things one has to do to market the brand are quite different than in the early years. How does one keep the “cool” factor going when you are the largest brand in your category. There are dozens of new entrants who are going after their market and have the advantage of being smaller (think Avion, Casamigos, Don Julio) and bringing a new “cool” factor to the market. Clearly there are many that succeed at this but being true to your brand and your audience while changing things up can be quite difficult. Absolut Vodka was THE luxury brand of the late 1980s and early 1990s. It was the “it” brand among the “it” crowd.

Andy Warhol Absolut IMG_6541

Pernod Ricard paid over $8 billion to acquire the brand a few years back. How does Pernod now manage a giant brand that was formerly the top luxury vodka in a market with such massive proliferation of brands that the high-end vodka category has experienced. I’m told there are 800 vodkas in the Beverage Media New York book. Pernod recently announced a new bottle. Absolut is one of those brands that defined itself by its bottle.   Changing the bottle is a big move even in subtle ways. Adding the big A is a pretty big move. Large companies don’t usually make big moves, but staying relevant in a crowded market sometimes requires big moves.    Pepsico made an even bigger move a few years back with their Gatorade brand. I thought at the time, it was fairly risky, but it appears to have paid off (does anyone know details?).

gatorade new gatorade old label

Patrick’s article certainly cites a number of great examples of big brands that have managed to evolve over time and keep or even build on their past successes. “…the challenge for brands has evolved from creating awareness to creating meaning.” How do you keep creating meaning at scale like Nike, Apple and Disney have successfully done.  They each connect to their consumers and continually create meaning.

The wine market has evolved so dramatically, that I have to look up many of the brands on the grocery shelf today and I have been involved in selling $100s of millions of wine over the years. Why? New brand proliferation to attract the millennial consumers.

barefoot wine logo Meiomi wine

Take a look at the top 10 domestic “Hot Brands” put out by Marvin Shanken’s Impact Databank:

  1. Barefoot
  2. Black Box
  3. Bota Box
  4. Liberty Creek
  5. Boggle
  6. Apothic
  7. 14 hands
  8. Barefoot Refresh
  9. Gnarly Head
  10. Meiomi

Four of these are Gallo Brands, but none say Gallo. All have interesting, contemporary labels. To succeed in this hyper-competitive market, every brand must have a number of things. Great branding is vital, without it your brand is lost and has no chance. Great liquid that fits the taste of your target market is key, without it they won’t buy a second time. Distribution is essential, a brand cannot become relevant if consumers can’t find it. But how does a brand build a real following of consumers who care? That is, how do we create meaning? That is the question every new brand team needs to answer.

 

To quote Patrick again: “We want the added value of believing in something. The added value of belonging to something: being a part of something that hard-wires us to a larger community of “people like me””

 

Seth Godin in his fantastic book “Tribes” articulates this concept well.

“Seth Godin argues the Internet has ended mass marketing and revived a human social unit from the distant past: tribes. Founded on shared ideas and values, tribes give ordinary people the power to lead and make big change. He urges us to do so.” Brands have to figure out how to reach their tribes and how to engage with them. Notice, I did not say create their tribes. This is an important distinction. I believe tribes are discovered not created. Brands who overtly try to create one typically struggle. If a following is not organic, today’s savvy consumers sense it.   I think brands can make themselves relevant and worthy of a following and then as that following begins to show signs of life can play a role in fostering and accelerating it.

 

I’d love to hear your stories of brands you think are doing this right.

 

Cheers,

 

Smoke

 

Paddington Brands Launches 90+ Rated Agostón Spanish Red Wines Nationally Through Walgreens

Indianapolis, IN – July 12, 2011 – Paddington Brands announced today that it has launched its Agostón wine brand through Walgreens, the nation’s largest drugstore chain.  Bodegas Virgen del Aguila, the Spanish wine cooperative, confirmed Paddington Brands as the exclusive U.S. importer of Agoston wines.

 

Agoston Tempranillo Cabernet from Spain - now available at ALL Walgreens

“When we first tasted Agostón, we knew this was a wine that would appeal to American consumers,” said J. Smoke Wallin, chairman and CEO of Paddington Brands. “Year after year Agoston has been receiving 90+ points in the Penin Wine Rating Guide, which is Spain’s equivalent to Robert Parker ratings. We have worked with Walgreens in order to bring this savory wine to the United States at an affordable price.”

 

In April Paddington launched both a syrah/garnacha and a tempranillo/cabernet blend in more than 4,000 Walgreens stores. The wines, priced at $5.99 a bottle in most states, have become one of the drugstore chain’s top selling imported wine brands.

 

“Agostón is a great addition to Walgreens wine selection as our first Spanish wine,” said Dex McCreary, Walgreens divisional merchandise manager. “We look forward to working with Paddington Brands to promote this brand and make this quality import a success.”

 

Agoston Garnacha & Syrah

“We were immediately impressed with the knowledge, drive and ‘can do’ approach of the entire Paddington team,” said Jose Maria Andres, CEO of Bodegas Virgen del Aguila co-operative. “We are proud to work with Paddington to launch this wine with such an important retailer like Walgreens, a company that will advance the development of the Agostón brand.”

 

About Agostón

Agostón is named after the wild Spanish boar and is made by the Bodegas Virgen del Aguila co-operative. Located in the great wine-producing area of northern Spain we´re lucky to have a climate and terroir ideal for making quality wines full of character. Here we have 2,200 hectares of vines, planted with a good range of grape varieties, including the native Tempranillos and Garnachas, as well as international varieties, such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. Our oldest vines date from the year 1906 and help create wines of superb intensity, such as our Agostón range.

 

Our vineyards are located in the scenic foothills of the Ibérico mountain range and we have a wide variety of landscapes and eco-systems within our demarcated area. Under half of our land is taken up by vines, the rest being undisturbed areas of rocky outcrops and forested mountain slopes, dry river beds, wild-flower margins and old almond groves. This makes it and its surrounding area a zone of high biodiversity and an ideal wildlife haven, something that we’re committed to safe-guarding.  The winery produces close to 10 million litres of wine a year, with a full range of styles, including young fresh whites and rosés, intense aromatic reds and complex oak-aged “Crianzas” and “Reservas”. The winery is modern, and fully equipped and the underground maturation cellars have 13,000 oak barrels.  

 

 

 

 

About Paddington Brands
Paddington Brands (www.Paddingtonbrands.com) manages a portfolio of owned and agency premiere import & craft beers, artisanal spirits and fine wines.  Paddington’s team and partners have extensive experience in the global beverage and consumer packaged goods industries. Paddington owns the Napa Smith Brewery & Winery and 3 Amigos Tequila.  Paddington is headquartered in Metro-Indianapolis, IN, with offices in the United Kingdom and Napa, CA and a sales team covering the U.S. market and select international markets. Join us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Paddington-Brands/220043258012149 and Follow us on Twitter @Paddingtonbrands

 

About Walgreens

Walgreens (www.walgreens.com) is the nation’s largest drugstore chain with fiscal 2010 sales of $67 billion. The company operates 7,733 drugstores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Each day, Walgreens provides nearly 6 million customers the most convenient, multichannel access to consumer goods and services and trusted, cost-effective pharmacy, health and wellness services and advice in communities across America. Walgreens scope of pharmacy services includes retail, specialty, infusion, medical facility and mail service, along with respiratory services. These services improve health outcomes and lower costs for payers including employers, managed care organizations, health systems, pharmacy benefit managers and the public sector. Take Care Health Systems is a Walgreens subsidiary that is the largest and most comprehensive manager of worksite health centers and in-store convenient care clinics, with more than 700 locations throughout the country.

Pelican Brands & SOI Wines Announce a Long Term Strategic Sales & Marketing Agreement for the US Market

Pelican Brands will Import and Drive the National Rollout of Barking Sheep Wines from Argentina, the first Brand to be Launched Under this Agreement

Carmel, IN, USA – December 20, 2010 – Pelican Brands and Schwartz Olcott Imports, LLC (SOI Wines) jointly announced today the formation of a long term strategic agreement to launch Barking Sheep wines from Argentina following a successful limited test market in 19 states.

Barking Sheep wines are produced in Mendoza, Argentina, and are styled for the U.S. market. The launch will include a beautiful classic Malbec and a fresh clean fruity Chardonnay.

Barking Sheep wines are produced at Las Perdices by chief winemaker Carlos Muñoz, from high altitude vineyards 1,000 meters above sea level towards the Andes Mountains producing full bodied classical fruit.

During a one year limited test market at a major national chain Barking Sheep was the #1 red wine of all new featured red wines.

Norman Schwartz, Co-Founder & Chairman of SOI Wines said, “There are many fine importers who do a great job with established brands; however, without brand builders like Smoke Wallin and the Pelican team it’s impossible to build a national brand franchise.  With Pelican sharing our enthusiasm for Barking Sheep we are well positioned to rollout nationally and to launch other brands together”

J. Smoke Wallin, Chairman & CEO of Pelican Brands said “The Barking Sheep brand further expands the Pelican Brands wine platform to Argentina.  These wines offer the consumer great value with a fun attitude.  We have high expectations for their national rollout.”  Wallin continued, “Norman has created some incredible brands over the years.  We are very excited to begin our long term strategic partnership with The Barking Sheep brand.”


NOTE: I’m very excited to be working with Norman and the team.  Look for more exciting developments as we pool our resources!… Smoke

Craft Beer sales up 12% in 1st half of 2010! We are seeing massive growth at @napasmith as we roll it out across the US…. more to come!

The Beeradvocate published this fine update the other day about Craft beer sales being up 12% in dollars and outpacing last year’s impressive growth.  Also showing the 10 year growth in numbers of breweries.  

This is perfectly consistent with what we are seeing on Napa Smith Beer as we are rolling out the 4 packs of Organic IPA and Lost Dog Red Ale along with the traditional lines.  We got authorized in all the Bay area Whole Foods and just got authorized in Safeway as well.   We are currently launching Indiana, Kentucky, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Texas and Florida to name a few markets.  Should have Napa Smith in 50 states by this time next year as well as select European and Asian markets.   Very exciting stuff.

Here is a shot of the new four packs…

Organic IPA 4-pack

Lost Dog 4-Pk

I was hanging with Don Barkley who is one of the most respected and earliest craft brewers in the US having done New Albian in the 1970s and then going on to co-found Mendocino Brewing and Red Tale Ale (which btw, is not what it used to be if you ask me).  He is great to drink beer with and has more great stories around beer than a week of sitting drinking beers could allow.  Anyway, discussing the amazing growth in the business and the numbers of new brewers, I mentioned our latest beer brand, Flat 12 Beirwerks founded in Indianapolis this year and launching this Fall…  its a cool project and the guys behind it are successful entrepreneurs in other industries with a ton of enthusiasm and drive. I think they have a great shot based on the early buzz around the brand and the liquid itself.  Pelican will manage their brand launch and grow it when appropriate to surrounding markets.

Will update soon on new spirits brands and some other exciting news on the Pelican front…

Until next time, Kind Regards,

Smoke

WINE 2.0 ANNOUNCES ROBERT OATLEY VINEYARDS SIGNS ON AS CORNERSTONE SPONSOR FOR 2009 MULTI-CITY EVENTS SCHEDULE

New Brand Founded By Australian Wine Legend Bob Oatley, Founder Of Rosemont Estates, Will Jumpstart Marketing Push With Participation In Over 15 Events Around The US For 2009

San Francisco, CA (NEWSWIRE), February 10, 2009, Wine 2.0, the innovator in social networking and events in the wine industry, today announced that Robert Oatley Vineyards has signed on as a Cornerstone Sponsor for the entire 2009 Wine 2.0 Events Season consisting of over 15 consumer and trade events around the US.

“Wine 2.0 is very excited to have Robert Oatley Vineyard’s participate in our 2009 Event Season. Bob Oatley is a trendsetter in the wine industry and understands what it takes to successfully launch and grow a brand. In today’s tough economic times, connecting face-to-face and online with your consumer is priority one for innovative brands.”, Said J.Smoke Wallin, Chairman, Wine 2.0 .  “In 2009 Wine 2.0 will connect with over 15,000 – 20,000 consumers at face-to-face experiential events and thousands more online. We’re looking forward to helping Robert Oatley Vineyards find new consumers and longtime buyers in 2009.

Bob Oatley is a proud and passionate Aussie who has taken Australian wine to the world.

His wines have topped Australian and American sales, been found on the world’s best wine lists and awarded some of the highest possible international accolades.

Bob Oatley has been producing outstanding Australian wines for over 40 years, taking them around the world to great success and critical acclaim. The Robert Oatley Vineyards team are well aware of what Australia can do best and constantly look to innovate. They combine estate‑grown and grower-supplied grapes to produce a very reliable, modern, highly drinkable range of exceptional Australian table wines at the family winery in Mudgee, Australia. In 2008 he launched Robert Oatley Vineyards and the Robert Oatley wine brand in the US market.

“Wine 2.0 is exactly what Robert Oatley Vineyard’s needs right now. Their innovative and flexible event platform with multiple formats combined with online social networking allows us to connect with thousands of wine lovers and wine trade members both online and face-to-face. As a new brand in the US, our goal is to reach and provide tastes for as many wine consumers as possible, and we believe the superb quality and unrivaled value of Robert Oatley Vineyard’s wines will shine through. Wine 2.0 gives us that ability in a consistent and focused way.” Said Mark Giordano, President, Robert Oatley Vineyards USA.

About Wine 2.0™ – “Blending the Line Between Wine & Technology”
Wine 2.0™ is the innovator in social networking and events in the wine industry. With a focus on the next generation wine consumer, Wine 2.0 breaks down the barriers to learning about, experiencing, and enjoying wine.   Wine 2.0 events feature a rich diversity of world class wines and the newest generation of emerging technology companies, services and communication tools that are changing the world of wine.  (Get Social at www.winetwo.net)

Wine 2.0 has a limited number of Cornerstone “Whole Season” Sponsorships available in key product and service segments.  Contact Abdi Humphries at Abdi@winetwo.com or via phone at (707) 815-2201 for information on available sponsorship packages.

About Robert Oatley Vineyards
Robert Oatley Vineyards is the new wine business of Bob Oatley, the man who took Rosemount Estate to the world. Bob Oatley began his career in wine in the 1960’s and quickly established a reputation as an innovative entrepreneurial winemaker, creating labels and wine styles that took the wine world by storm.

Robert Oatley Vineyards is the next exciting stage in this Australian family’s love affair with wine. Lead by Bob and run by his family and team of long-standing and new winemakers and marketers, Robert Oatley Vineyards will take the family’s 40 years of experience in crafting market leading Australian wines to the world.

Robert Oatley Vineyards is built around the family’s extensive vineyard holdings and modern winery in Mudgee, New South Wales combined with a diverse selection of winegrowers across the nation.

«

»

%d bloggers like this: