If you are already marketing or thinking of marketing wine in India, the following article is for you. Before we start, I will first answer the million-dollar question, “What prompted me to write this?” and the answer is, with stiff competition that’s only getting tighter it is most pertinent to get the branding exercise right. While many have got it quite right from the point of view of the Indian consumer, some seem a bit off the mark. Maybe yes, maybe no…but if it helps then why not!!
Education, Education, Education: Yes, boring and jaded as it sounds, education is the key to success. We deeply believe in it. Nowadays, an average Indian wine consumer is well travelled and has an educated palate. But we need to know why one product is better than a dozen others already present in the market. What is it that makes it special? Let’s talk about the soil, climate, the river which runs along the vineyard or that broken windmill…..c’mon share your story with us, we’re listening.
Building Brands: If you are serious about doing your business with us Indians, we want you to build your brand. I don’t want to sound like a brand guru but the only way that your product is going to survive among the sea-full of other brands out there is if you invest in your brand and build a lasting value. So, how you do it? The answer lies in doing consumer and trade dinners along-side other events. I am not talking about a one-time effort but a consistent one. As Magan rightly says, “you can create a brand over and over again but unfortunately you can kill it only once.” Think long term; if you are here for a quickie…hmmm….maybe you should be focusing your energies somewhere else.
Wine Packaging & Labels (especially back labels): O.K. So what do Indians want to see on the back label except for complex names that we really can’t pronounce or the name of the vineyard which we have no clue about? The front label is for your design team to play with who must keep in mind the local and national laws/ requirements. Now let’s talk about the back label. We as Indians are a big, diverse lot in the sense that we speak many languages, come from different cultural backgrounds, and have different habits and stimuli – but the one thing that brings us all together is that commonly accepted business language remains the same all over the country – English. So, we would appreciate if the back label comes in English and it tells us the following:
- Grape varieties (if not already mentioned on the front label)
- Food pairing recommendations
- Service temperature
- An idea of how long the wine can be cellared
- Origin or where exactly the wine comes from
- Tasting note
- Any special story about the wine that the winemaker wants to share with us like, what makes the liquid in the bottle special?
- The legal mumbo jumbo
Now a word (actually, a bit more) about packaging. Well, does the wine necessarily need to come in a glass bottle? How about tetra packs, bag-in-box or plastic bottles? You first reaction may be negative. “Nah! The market is too young to handle this.” But try it and you will be surprised how well your products are received by the consumers. We also want to contribute towards lowering the carbon footprint of the wine we consume (But remember to educate the consumer on the reason behind using such packaging.)
Wine Sales & Distribution Management: I wonder how many wine importers personally visit the vend shops and outlets in hotels to speak with the sales staff to know the staffs’ concerns about the product. I personally know a couple of them who do this and trust you me their sales always soar no matter which way the general market may seem to point. I agree that a lot has been written about poor placement of wine in high/ fluctuating temperatures, wine stored in bright lights and a lot more at the vend shops. But, let’s think proactively for a moment and we will start to realize that all these are opportunities to work on. How about having a trade session some day in which a couple of sales staff at the vend shops are educated about the need to store wine at the right/ constant temperature, away from bright lights, up-selling etc? Or providing them with wine cabinets to store wine correctly? Think of it as investment rather than expenditure.
Encouraging Trials: How wonderful it would be if we could just try some wine before we buy! This would not only help the consumer trade up but also avoid further disappointments if the wine is not to his/her taste and preferences. I look forward to those days when such dreams become a reality. But till then always try and initiate wines by-the-glass (BTG) programmes. Organise for sommeliers to taste your product with their clients free of charge. Such encouraging practices benefit the brand in the long run and also help win you clients who understand why they drink a certain wine and won’t get lured easily by competition. Some five star hotels have got “Enomatic” systems to offer tasting measures of the wines to their guests (of course at a price), which I think is a clever way to increase wine sales and introduce people to wines. So, kudos to them who came up with this idea. But don’t despair, you can buy it in India now.
So folks, that was but a little peep into the mind of an Indian consumer. I hope you find it useful. The real outcome would be if these insights act as catalyst for change, the sooner the better and when they do, I will be one happy vino-bunny!