(This post is the Executive Summary of the report “Yesterday is just a Dream, and Tomorrow, a Vision” published by VitaBella Luxury Wine on January 2018)
I was reading recently in French newspaper Le Figaro the following comment about the American market, “The young are attracted today to other sparkling wines, like Prosecco, but once they know more they will turn to more sophisticated products like champagne. And once they have a taste for it, there will be no going back.”
But that was before. Things have changed a lot in the space of twenty odd years and this argument just doesn’t stand up any more. Although the subject of this article was champagne, we could well say the same thing about Bordeaux, that other historic reference for connoisseurs of great wines. And it’s an argument that isn’t valid any more for three essential reasons:
Reason Number 1: Sophisticated sparkling wines now exist everywhere in the world, and great still wines too. It used to be said that the young, once they had acquired greater knowledge, would turn to the great wines of Bordeaux. If that was pretty automatic 20 years ago, it’s not true today. What’s more, that is a very French vision of things, when the wine world (and wine drinkers) has been massively internationalised and it is now necessary to think global and adapt to each market. The countries and the brands that are a success with the youth of today have also succeeded in making a place for themselves at the top end of the market and benefit from an increasingly powerful image and notoriety that extends all round the world. An image and a notoriety such that there is no longer any reticence in proclaiming to the world that one’s preference is for a Penfolds Grange or a Sassicaia rather than a prestigious Bordeaux chateau.
Reason Number 2: It isn’t only the experts that now guide the consumer. Twenty years ago, anyone who wanted to drink wine looked to experts for information. Today, the consumer looks above all to their community. That means that they are first of all guided by their friends, then different spheres of influence, in which experts are no longer in the first line. In 2018 the hierarchy of the different types of influencers in the world of wine is: No 1: Celebrities No 2: Macro-influencers No 3: Experts.
Reason Number 3: The “Once they have been convinced they won’t go back” argument doesn’t apply in 2018. Just as the loyalty of a customer can’t be judged by the regularity of their purchases, but by their capacity to be an ambassador for the brand in their communities, we can no longer consider that “going back” is not a possibility. These days the consumer is principally looking for an experience and not just for a product. It is therefore perfectly possible for them to change in order to experience something different. And that is in fact what they do all the time, and what makes our work as Brand Strategy Consultants increasingly fascinating.
I hope that 2018 brings you as much joy as that which we share every day with the châteaux, estates and brands who have put their trust in us since 2004 !
(You can reach Guillaume Jourdan via LinkedIn)