Username:    Password:
Thanks for stopping by...

Annals of Marketing
Advertising Guru Sir John Hegarty Says Wine Market is Impenetrable
Sunday, 1st August, 2010  - David Farmer
Sir John Hegarty - "The wine industry is the most fragmented market I've seen. Fragmented, confusing, impenetrable."

The guest speaker at the Institute of Masters of Wine Conference in Bordeaux this year was Sir John Hegarty, creative director for the U.K. firm, Bartle Bootle Hegarty. Sir John is an industry advertising heavyweight. Here are some quotes from a summary of his address, 'The wine business viewed from the outside' as reported by John Abbott, Decanter, June 28th.

"The wine industry is guilty of going 'out of its way to confuse the consumer', and must urgently come up with 'a new big idea'."

"The industry fails hopelessly on accessibility. This is market that goes out of its way to confuse the consumer."

"You've seen it - the way people in restaurants nervously pass round a wine list. It's fear. You as an industry have encouraged that fear. The wine industry is the most fragmented market I've seen. Fragmented, confusing, impenetrable."

"'s 'inaccessibility' was inhibiting growth and urged delegates to reach out a new, younger generation of wine buyers. 'Today's market is a younger, more experimental audience. Invest in the future. Youth is the future. "

"We all know you're passionate about wine... But we want to know what you're going to do about it."

An appeal like this must have had the delegates squirming as being awarded an M.W. after years of study is a certificate to continue just what Sir John was arguing against. Perhaps they mistakenly asked the wrong key-note speaker.

Then again I do not believe in a word Sir John said. Indeed all of it is very bad advice.

Sir John forgot to mention that wines sales have been growing strongly in many Western countries such as the U.S, U.K. and Canada. Impressive growth rates are also being seen in many Asian countries such as; Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Japan and now China*. Indeed some of these countries see drinking and having knowledge of wine as aspirational, an achievement which is at the heart of all advertising and marketing.

Something about wine must appeal to all these new consumers.

Mention is made of 'inaccessibility' and confusion though I see no link that the wine trade goes out of its way to deliberately confuse customers. Quite the opposite as many in the audience Sir John spoke to will spend their lives writing about wine, perhaps publishing a book or two, but in whatever role they play in the wine trade they will be busy trying to assist consumers to understand the beauty of wine. What other business has such a large number of highly skilled cheer leaders who also, I may add, work for modest pay.

No other daily consumer product, apart from food, gets so much publicity in newspapers and magazines and has so many magazines devoted to the subject. Each year brings another wave of books that dissect in intimate detail small wine regions. Wine also moves beyond the realm of a daily beverage and is talked about in the same hushed tones as fashion, art and music.

Yes of course Sir John is correct to point out that on some levels wine is not simple to understand; that it may even make you nervous when ordering from a wine list; that it is 'fragmented, confusing and impenetrable.' That is the sublime beauty of the product. If you wish you can spend years developing knowledge about wine because it is pleasurable and fun to do so; though if you just like the taste it requires no more effort than pulling a cork out or unscrewing the top. In this way it is as simple as any other alcoholic beverage to consume.

Many large beverage companies have listened to the call of the Sir John's of the world particularly when they are told an absolute fortune awaits the company that can simplify wine and make is accessible. Verse one of 101 marketing is all it will take and all believing this siren call have lost a lot of money.

The appeal of wine is its taste, while the endless games you can play are simply another plus. The games you can play? Well think about cellaring, masked tastings and the specialties known as horizontals and verticals, visiting cellar doors, wine and food societies, the mysteries of decanting, which glass to choose, the type of cork-screw, which wine with each dish, guessing games such as is left or right bank, fooling your guests, abusing sommeliers, pontificating about your drinking history; the list is endless.

As for appealing to youth; why bother, they will get to wine when they are ready. Perhaps Sir John should have looked at who drinks wine, as apart from several old European wine producing countries where it crosses society, it is people with money who live in wealthier suburbs.

Wine does not need to be simplified and even if the buyers have a bit more money most are happy with what they buy in the supermarket. Indeed worldwide they get a good product at a good price. This seems to me like a winning formula. Indeed it's the mystery of wine and the huge range that appeals to even the casual buyer. They accept there is a lot they will never know and understand but they love to drink the stuff.

As for this comment: "We all know you're passionate about wine... But we want to know what you're going to do about it." Actually Sir John, nothing at all. The brand image is in excellent shape even while all the things you point out are absolutely true. It's just that I draw a different conclusion. All the items you list that need improving, which I take it you mean simplifying, are perfect the way they are. There is not another consumer product in the world that has the image of wine and I do not see any rivals on the horizon.

The complexity of wine is indeed profound and I hope one day Sir John you will understand its consumer mystery. Bring on the confusion, the fear, inaccessibility and its anti youth appeal.

* For the record wine sales are falling in old, mature European wine producing countries such as France and Italy but this is not because wine has lost appeal and is partly because consumption rates were at the high end of being dangerous to health.

Rosemount Reaches the End of the Road

Monday, 15th June, 2015

Winery Names and Naming Wine Labels

Sunday, 6th April, 2014

Trademarks, Crittendens, Koppumurra, Wrattonbully and Legal Follies - Part 1

Tuesday, 18th February, 2014

Hamburgers Under the Golden Arches

Wednesday, 3rd July, 2013

The Founder of the German Retail Colossus Metro Dies, Age 89

Friday, 15th March, 2013

Cheez Doodles, Cheetos, Fast Foods and Wine

Wednesday, 27th February, 2013

When Marketing is Not Needed

Monday, 19th November, 2012

Marketing Bogus Items - Assets on Balance Sheets

Thursday, 4th October, 2012

In Recognition of Eugene Ferkauf - Retail Pioneer

Thursday, 20th September, 2012

How Do You Tell Customers You are Changing the Recipe?

Monday, 13th August, 2012

The Price Tension of Supply and Demand

Thursday, 28th June, 2012

Are Heritage Wine Brands Worth Anything?

Sunday, 22nd April, 2012

Marketing a Business

Friday, 2nd March, 2012

Using Negatives and Telling the Truth - Can it Work?

Sunday, 15th January, 2012

The Dream of Sales and Marketing - Making Consumers Spend

Sunday, 13th November, 2011

Turning Disaster into Triumph

Sunday, 21st August, 2011

A Question of Balance

Friday, 1st July, 2011

Marketing a Colour Change in Fish

Monday, 9th May, 2011

Marketing the Aldi Way - A Note on Theo Albrecht

Monday, 7th March, 2011

The Art of Marketing the Arts

Friday, 14th January, 2011

The Deadly and Effective Comparative Marketing of Woolworths

Wednesday, 24th November, 2010

Just Being Yourself Is Good Marketing

Saturday, 9th October, 2010

Studies Show Wine Consumers Fall Into Unique Segments

Friday, 20th August, 2010

Advertising Guru Sir John Hegarty Says Wine Market is Impenetrable

Sunday, 1st August, 2010

Reclaiming Your Brand

Sunday, 4th July, 2010

Writing Job Applications

Wednesday, 19th May, 2010

Marketing - The Rules of Success

Friday, 30th April 2010

We Pay Tribute to a Marketing Legend

Tuesday, 6th April 2010

The Art of Marketing Fragrances

Wednesday, 24th March 2010

The Andre Rieu Phenomenon

Monday, 1st March, 2010

Riding the Organic Wave

Sunday, 21st February, 2010

Keeping Supply Lower Than Demand

Wednesday, 13th January, 2010

Facts About Marlboro Man and Marlborough

Wednesday, 18th November, 2009

Be Very Clear About What You are Selling

Monday, 5th October, 2009

Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend

Saturday, 12th September, 2009

Ah yes, the Art of Marketing Yourself

Thursday, 16th July, 2009

Do You Understand the Creative?

Sunday, 5th July, 2009

First Cat's Pee and Now the Taste of Cigarettes

Wednesday, 17th June, 2009

Finding the Flavour that Works

Wednesday, 10th June, 2009

Not so Easy at Fresh and Easy

Sunday, 7th June, 2009

Twittering - Where Will it Lead

Sunday, 31st May, 2009

Is This Shooting Yourself?

Sunday, 24th May, 2009

What's in the Name

Saturday, 16th May, 2009

©2017 Glug  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy  |   RSS Feed
Liquor Licensing Act 1997: It is an offence to sell or supply liquor to a person under the age of 18 years, or to obtain liquor on behalf of a person under the age of 18 years.
All transactions in $AUD. This web site is operated by Glug Management Company Pty Ltd ABN: 64 116 647 780 Licence No: 51401128