Evolving Drinks Brands

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

 

Wine 2.0 Announces New York Premiere Of Documentary Film ‘America’s Wine: The Legacy Of Prohibition’ At Wine 2.0 New York Nov 18

Wine 2.0 Announces New York Premiere Of Documentary Film ‘America’s Wine: The Legacy Of Prohibition’ At Wine 2.0 New York Nov 18

New Film Takes Unprecedented Historic View of America’s Wine Industry – ‘America’s Wine: The Legacy of Prohibition’ Includes Interviews Which Chronicle The Rebuilding Of The Wine Industry And The Emergence Of A New American Wine Culture.Wine 2.0

NEW YORK, NY, November 06, 2009 /24-7PressRelease/ — Wine 2.0, the innovator in social networking and events in the wine industry, announces the Premiere and New York release of the documentary film America’s Wine: The Legacy of Prohibition at Wine 2.0 New York, November 18th at Webster Hall.

The new documentary film, commissioned by UC Berkeley’s world renowned Bancroft Library, is an in-depth look at wine in America. It covers everything from the “Noble Experiment” of Prohibition, which decimated the vibrant wine community, to the rise of the “Phoenix” generation of wine pioneers including Robert Mondavi and Ernest Gallo to the more recent battles over direct shipping of wines to consumers. No wine lover should miss this historic film.

‘America’s Wine: The Legacy of Prohibition’ will be showcased in a Reserve and Trade Event prior to the over 1,000 wine and tech lovers and media at Wine 2.0 New York and supported on Wine 2.0’s social network www.winetwo.net with a public fan page.

Commenting on the New York Premiere, Bancroft Director Dr. Charles Faulhaber stated, “The Bancroft Library has been documenting the history of California and the American West for almost 150 years, always using state-of-the-art technology. In the 19th century it was the steam-powered printing press. In the 21st century we now use digital media for the same purpose. “America’s Wine: The Legacy of Prohibition” is a major step forward for us, the first time that Bancroft has been involved in a documentary film on what has historically been one of California’s most important agricultural industries. We are thrilled at the work that Carla De Luca Worfolk and her crew have accomplished.”

“The remarkable journey we experienced in putting together this documentary enabled us to witness historical events, record final interviews, review private archives and share never-before displayed images, yet didn’t prepare us for the emotional impact of recognizing the passing of a generation.” said Filmmaker Carla De Luca Worfolk. She continued, “Immersing ourselves in the era of Prohibition and then its Repeal, we came to understand these complex times, as well as the culture we live in today, through vivid memories and personalities as their words informed our script and enlivened our images. While inevitable, we didn’t expect to be so personally moved as we worked in post-production and learned yet one more member of the “Phoenix Generation,” – eight total – had died since our interviews.”

“We could not be more excited to host the New York premiere of ‘America’s Wine: The Legacy of Prohibition'”, said J. Smoke Wallin, Chairman of Wine 2.0. He continued, “Wine 2.0. The ‘America’s Wine: The Legacy of Prohibition’ movie should cause everyone to gain perspective on the rich history of wine in America and appreciate what so many have done to lay the foundation for today’s vibrant wine market.”

Carla De Luca Worfolk, the Director, Executive Producer and Writer will have an interview with Wine 2.0 New York to discuss the film and wine with attendees. Media interviews are available.

Three years ago Bancroft’s Regional Oral History Office at the University of California, Berkeley, embarked on a project to augment the California Wine Industry Oral History Collection with a documentary to mark the 75th anniversary of the Repeal of Prohibition. In the making of the film, De Luca Worfolk and wine historian Dr. Victor Geraci used scholarly oral histories from the Bancroft’s Regional Oral History Office and Bancroft archival materials, augmented with over 40 original interviews and photographs and film clips from numerous other collections, to provide an historical overview of the legacy of Prohibition and the rebuilding of a new American Wine Culture.

About Wine 2.0

Wine 2.0 is the innovator in social networking and events in the wine industry. Wine 2.0 focuses on the next generation wine consumer and breaks down the barriers to learning about, experiencing and enjoying wine. Wine 2.0 events feature the newest generation of emerging technology companies, services and communication tools that are changing the world of wine. (www.winetwo.net)

About America’s Wine: The Legacy of Prohibition
America’s Wine: The Legacy of Prohibition is a documentary film celebrating the rich history of the American Wine Industry. This documentary offers an unprecedented overview of the legacy of National Prohibition (1920-1933) and its continuing impact on the wine industry and everyday lives of Americans. Covering a span of one hundred years of winemaking up to the present day, the film tells the story of how the leading entrepreneurial wine families overcame obstacles to rebuild the American wine industry, which had been decimated after National Prohibition and its Repeal. From within this historical context, the film also explores the most significant news-making subject areas in today’s media that reveal Prohibition’s legacy: laws governing direct shipping of wine to consumers; scientific research that influences alcohol and health policy; and the changing global marketplace.

Marking the 75th Anniversary of Prohibition’s Repeal, the documentary brings to life never-before-seen archival photographs and film clips, and features nearly 40 interviews including those who experienced Prohibition, historians, winemakers, members of Congress, and public policy experts. Among those filmed are Kevin Starr, California Librarian Emeritus, Leon Panetta, Former Chief of Staff for President Bill Clinton, and Kathleen Sullivan, Former Dean of Stanford Law School, as well as legendary winemakers Brother Timothy, Robert Mondavi, and Ernest Gallo. Through differing views and historical perspectives, the interviews contribute informed commentary as the documentary chronicles the rejuvenation of the American wine industry and the emergence today of a new American wine culture. It also pays tribute to the passing of a historic generation. Equally significant are the insights fueling the continuing societal debate over the issue of alcohol in America.

About Carla De Luca Worfolk, Director, EP/Producer, and Writer

Carla De Luca Worfolk, an Emmy award-winning television and documentary producer, has enjoyed an extensive career across media, gravitating towards highly creative assignments with an emphasis on education, public service and policy. Throughout her career, the San Francisco Bay Area native has worked as an independent producer, magazine editor, writer, public relations executive, and paralegal. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from Santa Clara University, and a Master of Journalism degree from the University of California at Berkeley. During her years as a CNN producer in Atlanta, Worfolk supervised content for the highly-rated CNN Saturday/Sunday Morning program, a live, two-hour magazine show, and was also on the Emmy-winning team that covered the Olympic Park Bombing in 1996

%d bloggers like this: