Four Tips To Take Your Wine Brand Up A Few Notches

Wine producers tend to segment their wines into tiers – basic (or commodity), premium and super-premium. But consumers are changing and better informed, making branding decisions more difficult than ever before. Here are some excerpts from an article by Allen Adamson, recently published in Advertising Age. Good advice for wine marketers.

From ice cream to bottled water, there isn’t a mass-market category that hasn’t jumped onto the “up-branding” bandwagon – and a very wise jump it is. Adding a premium product to an already strong brand name is a great way to drive brand growth and drive up margins. In fact, it can cast a positive halo over the entire brand family of products, making them all seem worth more.

Thanks to the internet and other media channels, consumers have changed too: People are more informed and more worldly-wise than ever before. There’s greater awareness of what’s sophisticated, what’s hot and, more important, what’s cool. And these consuming masses have shown strong evidence they are ready, willing and able to pay premium prices for products and services once considered commodities.

But up-branding is a tricky thing to get right. You can’t simply put your product in a shiny black box with a 10-point, sans-serif typeface and expect people to grab it off the shelves. Consumers are becoming more aware. You can’t up the price of a product without upping the intrinsic value – otherwise people will see through it immediately, and you’ll lose credibility. And while word-of-blog can boost a brand’s reputation very quickly, it can sink it even faster.

Here are four tips to take your brand up a few notches:

Play from your brand’s strength. Offer a benefit that is legitimately better and different, but aligned with what consumers already associate with your brand. The key to success is to make it simple for people to understand what makes your product worthy of up-brand status at an up-brand price.

Leverage design. Sophisticated or elegant design is one of the fastest ways to communicate quality. Consumers have been trained to factor in aesthetics when assessing value. The more attractive a product, the more valuable they perceive it to be.

Consider limiting your distribution channels. Limiting distribution can be a powerful way to signal an up-branded product or service. If you’re everywhere, how special can you be? The environment in which a company decides to sell speaks volumes about the company it wishes to keep.

Give your brand a “green” label. Historically, buyers of environmentally correct products have been perceived as more educated and more socially aware, characteristics generally shared with the premium-goods market. Today green has gone mainstream, and consumers across many markets are willing to pay more for products they believe will make a difference to mitigate global warming.

Step back before you step up. Think about how your up-branded product will actually be different and more relevant – and why people should pay for the privilege you offer.

Adapted from “Why Up-Branding Is Here to Stay” by Allen Adamson.