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What’s on tap? Life after a Wine shortage

What’s on tap? Life after a Wine shortage What’s on tap? Life after a Wine shortage What’s on tap? Life after a Wine shortage
12/3/13
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by Nicole Lampe
Last month, when I read an analyst report from Morgan Stanley warning of a potential global wine shortage, I almost dropped my glass of chardonnay. After all, the US is one of the top wine-consuming countries in the world—especially around the holidays, when fermented grapes become a ubiquitous wingman at family gatherings used to toast good health and promote good cheer.

If the wine-shortage threat holds true, how will the American consumer survive this holiday season? And what will this mean for alternative libations? I began to wonder which brands stand to gain in this changing cocktail landscape.

For answers, I turned to our BrandAsset Valuator database—specifically, the 75 Beer, Spirit and Champagne brands measured in the USA. Among respondents of legal drinking age, our data show that roughly 40% of alcohol related brands are considered New, Unknown, or Unfocused, and roughly 20% are considered Niche brands.

Only 7% of BAV’s beer, spirit, and champagne brands have achieved leadership status to the degree that we believe consumers “love” the brand.

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Ever walked into a liquor store and felt overwhelmed by your options? That feeling is why it’s critical for brands to be focused and distinct- so they can have a clear point of differentiation to capture your attention. In our BAV data, we consistently see that brands with strong Differentiation scores have greater ability to break through the clutter, demand premium prices, fend off competitive claims and build loyalty.

Beer Breaks Out

So while many brands in the beer, spirits, and champagne categories are struggling to differentiate, a few are getting it right—especially in the Beer category. Of the 10 alcohol brands that score highest on differentiation, 6 are beers, specifically, craft beers or imports.

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Not only are these brands highly differentiated, they are also highly relevant, and relevance is what ultimately drives case sales, the key financial metric in this category. Together, Differentiation and Relevance are the leading indicators of brand health, and brands that can leverage this interest and excitement into trial and usage are those best positioned to steal share—without having to discount their prices.

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What makes each of our top 10 brands remarkable—and poised to fulfill the need states currently occupied by wine—is their perceptual “premiumness.” That is, they make consumers feel that drinking their products is a special occasion.

Consider the rituals promoted by Stella Artois (“the nine-step pour”) and Guinness (“six steps to creating the perfect pint”). Or the limited edition/seasonal beverages put forth by Sam Adam’s and Blue Moon (Love Christmas Ale? ‘Tis the season—get it while it’s hot). Or the deep sense of legacy promoted by Jack Daniel’s and Hoegaarden (made by the monks).

This perceptual “premiumness” may be just marketing, but it’s also the stuff differentiation, relevance—and ultimately success—are made of. So, if the rumors are true and the wine bottle runs dry, what brands will catch your eye and make an occasion feel special to you?

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