How to succeed in the Premiumization of a Wine Brand?

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Between the emergence of new types of customer and the necessity to adapt to different economic situations (in France, for example, the crisis has created a rift between French consumers and luxury brands, now perceived as being increasingly aloof and elitist), the Premium segment responds to a real need; that of being able to offer consumers a “Luxury Moment”. So how can and should the wine world adapt? How is it possible to present a Premium offer when you have always been positioned at “entry level” or uniquely “top end”? Is your organization ready to make the switch to Premium? Looking at the projects we have worked on since 2004, I have observed that the passage from an “Entry Level” culture to a “Premium” one may be complicated. Management, often insensitive to the arguments in favor, found it difficult to integrate all the changes necessary for the move to Premium, with the result that it was not always successful. And those working in the luxury sector did not always find it easy to adapt either. You have to know how to implement change, to be unafraid of thinking outside the box or varying the tone (chic, vulgar, glamour, etc.), and to cultivate controversy. Personally, I have always considered that a feeling for luxury was essential to the success of a Premium wine brand project. Using an outside consultant to help develop your brand is a real plus in the successful management of this evolution. That’s why at Vitabella our expertise is naturally at the disposal of our clients to accompany them in this phase of “Premiumization”, from Strategic Marketing to Communication Tactics.

But, in concrete terms, what exactly is Premiumization? Over and above a collection of objective criteria (price, packaging…) a brand is defined by content that appeals to the imagination and the emotions. In the era of retail therapy, the added value of a wine lies increasingly in the emotion that it procures. And Premiumization provides the link between the “desirability” that is prized in the luxury market, and the famous “Function and Necessity” specific to the mass market. How can you define the final result of a successful Premiumization strategy? To make a 20 euros bottle of wine a 30 euros bottle, and make sure it feels like a 40 euros bottle.

Premiumization requires the transition from a product culture to a client culture, that is to say, changing from a product-based vision — selling wine — to a vision based on value to the customer. Here you have to understand consumer buying behavior because we are no longer looking at a purchase that is 100% rational. The Premiumization of a brand embraces new ways of thinking where it is a question of emotion and intelligence, of culture and affinities. Visual codes and ideas that communicate this sense of belonging to Premium are therefore essential elements to be expressed using all possible tools, be they digital operations or cellar door actions, because today the customer has in essence a multichannel approach. Hence the importance of CRM (Read: CRM & True Luxury) and Big Data (Read: Big Data & Wine brands), but also the training of those responsible for talking about the brand and who are in direct contact with customers. If the promise offered by the brand is inconsistent with the customer’s actual experience, then there’s something amiss. So it’s imperative that brands offer their customers a holistic experience across all touchpoints. Implementing a Premiumization strategy therefore requires careful planning. Brand identity needs to be defined and communicated to the customers, in all countries where the brand is present (NB: the definition and perception of Premiumization varies considerably from country to country) but it’s also necessary to create desire, define new instants, reach new audiences, create surprise. I believe it is a natural evolution for many wine brands today, but that doesn’t necessarily make it easy to put into practice.

This new report “How to succeed in the Premiumization of a Wine Brand?” published by VitaBella Luxury Wine on October 2016 is an aggregation of 12 years of experience alongside the great names of Wine. From Strategic Marketing to Communication Tactics, VitaBella Luxury Wine helps wine estates to establish their brand strategy, with an all-round and international vision of the strategic issues and challenges involved, and accompanies them in the operational development of their Premiumization strategy using tools that are fitting and adapted to their needs.

(You can reach Guillaume Jourdan at info@vitabella.fr or via Linkedin.)

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