Last week I had a look at successful brands, logos and slogans and now I would like to bring that closer to home – to the wine world. Traditionally there is quite a difference in the way the Old World and New World target wine marketing and branding and therefore I’ll deal with them separately.
Of all the Old World countries and in the wine world in general, France must be the country best known for wine and for some of the most famous wine brands. Think of Chateau Margaux, Pétrus, Romanée Conti, Yquem, Haut Brion, Mouton Rothschild, Cheval Blanc, Chateau Grillet and Hospices de Beaune. For anyone in the wine world and for many beyond that, these brands are immediately recognisable. And then we have not even touched on the fame of the Champagne brands – Moët & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, GH Mumm, Laurent-Perrier, Piper-Heidsieck, Tattinger, Perrier-Jouët, Bollinger, to name but a few.
Except for the default of being from the famous wine country of France, how have these brands established themselves? Was it because of the quality of the wine, the specific terroir, unique attributes, the history of the vineyards and estates, being at the right place at the right time, the right pricing, a dynamic owner, prestigious awards and accolades, excellent ratings from critics? Or did they develop a story and an experience around the brand?
Let’s look at probably the best known of them all: Pétrus
With a property that changed hands frequently until it was purchased by the Moueix family in 1964, the history of Chateau Petrus is quite recent in Old World terms. Looking at this history, I have found a few reasons why I think they have managed to establish themselves as one of the most recognisable wine brands in the world:
- The visionary partnership between previous owner Madame Loubat and Jean-Pierre Moueix who handled the production and distribution of her wine, started Petrus’ rise to fame.
- The Loubat family was well connected and knew the wine trade.
- Loubat and Moueix believed in the quality of their Pomerol property and that they produced the finest Bordeaux in the entire appellation.
- They were also strategic thinkers and agreed that Petrus would never sell for a price lower than Cheval Blanc, the best Bordeaux form the Medoc.
- They are involved with their own distribution.
- Although they were famous in the traditional markets of London, Belgium and France, they also had some luck – although not part of a marketing strategy, President John F Kenny and his wife Jackie declared their fondness for Petrus.
- Robert Parker entered the scene with his continuous praise and high ratings for Petrus and Pomerol.
- Keeping it in the family. Jean-Francois Moueix and his children, are the owners of Petrus today, while Christian Moueix managed the production. And the second generation of Berrouet winemaker is now in charge.
- Change when it is necessary. Since 2008, when Olivier Berrouet replaced his father as the wine maker for Petrus, he brought with him some new ideas for the wines.
- Unique terroir. Petrus has unique clay soils that even neighbouring properties only have a small portion of.
- The unique character of the wine.
- Maintaining quality standards and only bottling and releasing the best of a vintage.
Of course the story is not the same for all of them, but for the old, well-established and famous wine brands of France, it seems that it is a history of quality more than anything else that has ensured their iconic status. Even though some of them today have beautiful websites and have embraced social media, their focus is not on creating an experience around their brands other than the quality of the wine and the uniqueness of the terroir.
It is not the same for the Champagne brands however. Although the story and history of Champagne is as romantic as it gets, from Dom Perignon to Madame Clicquot, in the modern era Champagne brands have done strategic associations and endorsements such as celebrity endorsements (Armand de Brignac and Jay-Z) and alliances with luxury brands (Veuve Clicquot and Ferrari).
Next week we look at what the New World Wine Countries are doing to make their brands recognisable.