Like it or loath it Prosecco has been the saviour of the UK wine industry over the last five years. So is it time we started to give Prosecco a little more respect and think about how we can really make the most of what it can offer and tap in to its heritage as a classic partner for Italian food? Alistair Morrell certainly thinks so and has been working with with the Colucci Prosecco brand to prove it.
Prosecco sales may still be booming, but with more price rises imminent the on-trade is going to have to work harder to keep Prosecco moving forward which is where food comes in, says wine consultant, Alistair Morrell.
Prosecco, according to one senior on-trade group director I spoke to recently, has grown by 20-30% for each of the last four years and doesn’t look like stopping any time soon. It has affected Champagne sales and caused them to re-shape their range, which in turn has led to Champagne category growth.
And yet, the number of Prosecco listings is, on average, two verses four for Champagne. It is a curate’s egg that the Prosecco market is bigger than Champagne by both value and volume measures and yet on-trade ranges are small and narrowed to the least number of SKUs possible.
Yes, the Prosecco market has become commoditised and polarised around the grocery trade, which offers no-one in the supply chain much, if any, room for margin. It generates plenty of volume, but little or no profit for market investment.
At the same time research demonstrates that consumers, especially and increasingly, millenials through to Generation Z (16-24 year olds) are seeking more experiential-led products and services. Maybe those type of consumers don’t want to drink Prosecco, but go into any bar on a weekend evening and watch how many younger (not below 18) consumers are drinking Prosecco. The current reality is, they are drinking Prosecco, but come away with no ‘brand’ legacy.
Creating Prosecco experiences
So taking these observations together, it becomes clear that developing experiences for Prosecco consumers can be the route to generating long-term value in partnership with the on-trade. It needs a sophisticated approach that requires careful strategic market planning and long-term nurturing.
But for Prosecco’s long-term health as a category in its own right, it’s vital the trade works with producers to find ways in which it can differentiate itself and identify ways in which it can create new consumer experiences when drinking and enjoying it.
There is a brand, which is trying to put the two together – Prosecco and experience – in unique ways. Colucci’s Prosecco sees the opportunity to really play on Italy’s heritage with food and bring that much more to the fore when serving and promoting Prosecco.
Creator and managing director, Marce Colucci, explains: “When we drink Colucci’s we always believe the experience is made better with something to eat. Maybe it is the Italian family heritage or just a basic reality, which just satisfies the conversation, mood and ambience.”
Italian food matching
It is looking to capitalise on the fact younger generations are looking for better food and drink experiences, with authentic brand stories, that Prosecco can potentially capitalise on with its background and culture with food.
“We know from talking to consumers that Colucci’s has a sophistication, which makes it ideal for the ‘floral and fresh’ spectrum of food matching, which spans a broad range of refined crustaceans, subtle flat fish, elegant and carefully crafted vegetarian dishes,” he adds.
Colucci’s is now approaching the on-trade not just as a product, but an experience proposition designed around how consumers are using it. It has looked to develop new tools, for example, that can help operators and distributors make food and wine matching more relevant to their customers.
Like a specially designed and created food matching wheel which offers suggestions on which type of dishes and food styles would work with its white (summer berry fruits, white fish), silver label (halibut, monkfish, meaty shellfish) and rosé (meaty fish, salamis, cherries) Colucci Proseccos. It is also developing a recipe book with renowned chefs to showcase the perfect serve for Colucci’s.
All of which is supported by an authentic back-story that focuses on the quality and taste profiles of Colucci and why it believes it delivers a “sublime, sophisticated and authentic experience”.
Plans for 2018 include a pop-up store or wine bar and a day focused on events around Colucci’s and Prosecco that goes beyond just tasting. All of which hopes to play its part in extending not just Colucci’s reputation and experience of the market, but developing the Prosecco market in general.
Differentiating Prosecco is critical for brands if they are to develop value in the same way that Champagne has. Managing the brand experience to the benefit of all, consumer, hospitality outlet, distributor and producer is the role of the brand.
Alistair Morrell, aka The Wine Inspector, is a strategic market consultant to alcohol brands, producers and distributors and has worked closely with Marce Colucci to develop this innovative programme.