This is me, Reka Haros

Hi !

Welcome to my wine industry worldview.

I created this space for people who like to look at the wine industry from a broad perspective. Here you will find a curated selection of my ideas, thoughts, and questions relating to innovation, business, marketing, and communications in the wine industry.

My aim is to make you think and hopefully reframe your beliefs so we can build a future together that we can all fall in love with.

When Wine is the Enemy

When Wine is the Enemy


So it happens that wine is the enemy. Yes! Sounds strange, I know, but I found evidence that they (beer and spirits) are ruthlessly trying to steal our wine consumers. They want our consumers to stop drinking wine!

The wine industry is self-centered. It rarely thinks of other product categories.It seldom sees business opportunities in other product categories. We, wine people, tend to think that our consumers are just ours. We like to believe that they only drink wine and they have no other interest beyond our products. We are obviously wrong!

And while wine is so preoccupied with itself, beer and spirits have better ideas. They bravely research, study, analyze, interpret and take advantage of consumer insights and target wine consumers! They clearly understand that marketing is important for selling their products. They go beyond and see further than their own noses. They look for extra opportunities to target new potential consumers to increase their products’ market penetration.

They get it! They know that consumers drink different drinks based on the occasion. Cold-bloodedly and with no mercy, they move ahead taking advantage of wine category’s inertia.

While researching to find some evidence and case studies for this article, (which created a big discussion on the relevance and importance of marketing for wine) I couldn’t help but find these other cases fascinating. They all show how targeting across alcohol drinks categories can work.

1. The Wine That Sold Beer

Export Dry was New Zealand’s first premium dry beer. However, with the explosion of the premium beer category, the once popular Export Dry lost its popularity. It needed to turn the wheels around and re-position itself as a credible premium beer. Research showed that Export Dry’s target market didn’t like wine, but occasionally drank it because of societal pressures, in occasions like weddings, work functions, dinner parties etc. Based on these consumer insights they redefined Export Dry as the premium beer that saves men from wine.

To execute their campaign, they created a wine called, ‘You Don’t Have To Do This’. When men browsing for wine picked up a bottle and read the back, they were told they were making a mistake. That they shouldn’t buy wine, but Export Dry instead, as beer was what they wanted. Wherever wine was, Extra Dry was there too to convince men to not buy wine. By creating the ‘You Don’t Have To Do This’ wine bottles, the brand was able to talk to its target market at the crucial moment of purchase. A wine that endorsed buying beer instead.

The ‘You Don’t Have To Do This’ wine bottles lead to an in-store sales increase of 350% in a single week. The major New Zealand wine retailer where the bottles were stocked, recorded their best sales of Export Dry ever.

The in-store campaign was supported by this TV ad.

This smart little campaign could work with wine too, but only if we finally made it more accessible and approachable to consumers. I personally don’t drink beer, and feel the pressure whenever I find myself in beer land, or in situations where everyone is drinking beer. I feel relieved when I can put my hands on a wine bottle. It works both ways!

2. Proud of Belgian Beer

For years, beer consumption rates have been dropping in Belgium because people perceive Belgian beer as a commodity. For special occasions, more and more Belgians choose wine and cava. Therefore, the Belgian association of brewers decided to do something about it. They decided to foster pride for Belgian beer to grow consumers’ preference for beer instead of wine & cava.

After monitoring and listening to what consumers of #belgianbeer were saying and sharing worldwide, the idea was clear. Belgians needed to know what the world thinks of their beer. Consequently, three short films were shot about Belgian Beer enthusiasts in the USA, China & France. The short versions were aired as TV commercials and the long versions were promoted via YouTube & Facebook.

A post-test revealed that 53% of people feel more proud of Belgian beer, 28% has ordered beer instead of wine, and 33% say they will drink more often Belgian Beer. The media attention generated by the campaign encouraged the Belgian government to submit Belgian beer culture to the UNESCO world heritage list.

The original films can be found herehere, and here:

Wouldn’t this be a perfect case for Italians and French where wine consumption has drastically decreased? Be proud of your country’s wine! National pride and sense of belonging go very far with patriotic consumers! It could also work in countries where they could be looking to establish a national identity, or a national brand, like in the USA, for example.

3. This calls for a cocktail

Diageo and Schweppes collaborated to help Schweppes Mixers get out of their brand identity crisis. A common belief was that cocktails are for special occasions and that special occasions are rare. Schweppes’ aim was to take the everyday beer and wine out of customers’ hands and put a Schweppes mixers’ cocktail in it. To do this, they created ‘special occasions’ every day, even if they weren’t that ‘special’ at all.

This was a great opportunity for Diageo to have a role in the daily social occasions of consumption, in the same way, wine and beer already have.

This “Calls For A Cocktail” promotion created as many new cocktails and cocktail occasions in 60 days as possible to demystify the notion that cocktails are only for special occasions.

The series of short films can be found here.

What a perfect match would this be for wine? Wine cocktails have all the good reasons to compete with cocktails made with spirits! While on my ski holidays in Austria, I found two very interesting Prosecco cocktails on the menu of restaurants; Prosecco & RedBull and Prosecco & Pimm’s #1. If they made it to the restaurants’ list, there is obviously a demand for them!

4. Alfaia, a craft beer in a wine shop

And then there is Alfaia, the exception to the rule. Alfaia is a small but well-known wine shop in Lisbon. It’s specialized in Portuguese wines and food, attracting both locals and foreigners and over the past years, customers have been asking the owner for an option rather than wine, so he decided to answer their requests with a craft beer.

However, unlike the wines in this shop, Alfaia beer had no history, no background, and no soul. Not even a label. It was very tasty but remained isolated, lifeless. Alfaia was the black sheep, an outsider trying to fit in a family of wines. To bring it to life, it was necessary to create her own universe by capturing her looks, finding her inner voice and letting her have a life and personality of her own. Alfaia beer believes she’s a wine. How cute is that?

Alfaia beer also had a journal for reading at the wine shop: “The illusions and delusions of a craft beer in a wine shop” illustrating Alfaia and her neurotic personality. Posters decorated the space, helping visitors to understand the context. Few months after the launch, the first lot sold out, with a high demand for the second one.

Pedro Jorge, the owner of Alfaia, turned to Leo Burnett Ad agency to help him grow awareness of his craft beer in his wine shop! A very clever and intelligent business move- He not only satisfies wine lovers’ needs but also brings in people who would prefer a beer. He obviously listens to and understands his clients’ needs and uses very clever marketing to satisfy their desires.

5. Wine Under Attack

Changing a little bit the perspective from marketing communications to politics, the fifth case is the unfortunate case of an EU nation’s chief medical officer making this statement:

“I would like people to make their choice knowing the issues and do as I do when I reach for my glass of wine and think, ‘Do I want my glass of wine or do I want to raise my risk of breast cancer?’.

She didn’t say beer or rum or vodka or whiskey or gin, she said wine! As perfectly described by Simon Woolf in his article, wine is under attack. While health issues related to alcohol abuse are a serious thing, it seems like wine is more under the spotlight than beer and spirits. Researching the European Beer and Spirits lobbies and their missions (worth a read!), it is evident that they are active in protecting and ensuring the economic growth of their sectors at political levels.

This calls for some serious and immediate actions from the wine industry’s part, because as long as it continues to stay paralyzed, and react only as a consequence of an attack instead of preventing it, beer and spirits will have the better end. As Simon Woolf says, “It would be a tragedy if fear, small-mindedness or misinformation were to deny future generations the joys and subtleties of wine.”

I personally believe that Wine in Moderation could do more if they were supported better and were given better tools and means to ensure wine industry’s position in political decisions. Again, it seems like the Beer and Spirits lobbies are doing a better job in influencing political decision makers.

I tell you a little secret when I read and watched these case studies, I could not help but feel both irritated and inspired. It discomforts me that the wine category is so inflexible, that many wine people are still convinced that innovation and looking ahead of times is not necessary. That marketing and communications are evil sciences that hurt the industry. However, not investing in building brands that consumers love are leading many businesses to continuous profit losses. But “we” like to shove that fact under the carpet, right?

I believe it’s a good idea to look at other product categories and understand that to achieve economic growth, the wine industry needs to be active, and not passive. The Beer and Spirits categories are active and targeting wine consumers! In the meantime, “we” are not even capable of starting a conversation with our own consumers.

So it happens that wine is the enemy. Yes! Sounds strange, I know! In the end, what has wine done to deserve such position? Nothing. That’s the point. It hasn’t done anything. It has only stayed paralyzed in the last century.

There are chasers and the chased, and I like to be the firsts option. That is the inspiration I get from these cases!

photo via Marko Bradic

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