Of all the reversions to type that appear during a generic rebranding exercise, the retreat back to ‘great value at every price point’, ‘excitement’ and, above all, ‘over-delivering’, is as soul-destroying as it is frustrating.
For a start, there is the inanity of it all. ‘Exciting’ – surely a Pinot Grigio is not ‘exciting’ just because your brand or region hasn’t made one before? ‘Exciting’ is not simply a substitute for ‘new’ or ‘latest’, and at the very least it should be able to generate a keen sense of anticipated delight or unexpected surprise.
‘Great value at every price point’ is just a non-truth, plain and simple. No one country can – or should – ever claim to do all things equally well, and better than everyone else. Inputs, production costs, harvest results and foreign currency rarely swim in synchronicity, and any range may frequently look convincingly good from one end, only for the other end to promptly drift from view and/or credibility.
The ‘we-can-be-all-things-to-all-people’ shtick really just translates as being sufficiently anonymous – and yet appropriately ubiquitous – to attract most of the people, most of the time. I suppose there is no commercial shame in that, but it is hardly a rallying cry for an increasingly forlorn supply chain (growers, winemakers, brand owners, regions) looking for leadership, hope and a half-chance at a sustainable future.
And now for the real insult: we apparently aspire to ‘overdeliver’. Really? What I think when I hear this claim is that we timidly and consistently fail to attract the real price that our brand and offer truly merits. It is as if we think that we are going to conquer Asia because our regional Cabernet is more than half half as good as Classed Growth, but only one fifth of the price…
The point of great value is not only that it performs at a price comparative to the competition or perceived brand leader, but that it resolutely surprises and delights beyond expectation. Once that standard becomes the expectation, the brand invariably has to ‘go again’, but it should never undershoot the market in the first place in order to compensate for an apparent lack of ambition or self-belief.
Australia makes great wine. It should command a fair price that its winemakers and growers would be proud and prepared to pay. That is also how to inspire and best influence the consumer, whether she is being invited to consider ‘new’ Australia as a producer of unique and interesting regional styles, or whether she is discovering Australia for the first time.
So, tips for wineheroes looking for a reality check/cheque:
- ‘Value’ is not determined by the producer, but by the market and by the consumer. Talk about ‘quality’, ‘interest’, and ‘story’, but leave ‘value’ out of it. It’s not your place.
- By all means have the courage to put your wine in an international context, but this is a comparative and not a competitive exercise. Let the audience join up the dots and determine what is the better buy.
- Claiming to ‘over-deliver’ is just a tacit admission of failing to position your brand properly in the first place. Don’t do it.
Above all , remember that Australia is the real deal, not a consolation prize.