What do Snoop Dogg, Martha Stewart, ocean waste and flat bottle packaging have in common? They are all part of Australian innovation in the wine business that is helping guide the direction of future drinking trends. So argued Mike Bennie in Trailblazers, an online seminar that brought together John Wardley, US VP of marketing for Treasury’s 19 Crimes, Lucy Clements, operations director for Accolade’s Banrock Station and Richie Vandenberg, co-founder of The Hidden Sea.
“The rate of sale has considerable velocity and our target customers for on-trade are also looking at it particularly with festivals and events where glass cannot be taken into venues,” Clements says about her flat, plastic wine bottle.
The news that Martha Stewart is to be the new face of Treasury Wines’ 19 Crimes brand, joining California-based rap artist Snoop Dogg in the latest of a series of joint ventures, will further help draw a new demographic into the wine business, according to John Wardley, US VP of marketing for Treasury’s 19 Crimes. Speaking to journalist Mike Bennie on this afternoon’s Future of Drinking webinar, Wardley revealed that Stewart will be just one of a number of new faces “joining Snoop at the party” with her brand Martha’s Chard.
Asked by Bennie whether Treasury’s marketing phenomenon was merely “faddish”, Wardley said not and that 19 Crimes had “unlocked a model that resonates with consumers,” he also revealed that 20% of 19 Crimes’ consumer base were new to the wine category “African Americans and Hispanics who are a tough demographic to break into… and also everyone from millenials to boomers who are re-reconsidering the category – one that they left for spirits because it seemed to be more exciting to them.”
The challenge of the brand, Wardley said, was how to stay relevant to the consumer “it’s about celebrating the human spirit…with Martha’s Chard we’re talking to a different consumer,” and it’s also about making the connection clear between the celebritity and the wine “with Snoop it’s overt – it’s his face and signature on the bottle, it helps the consumer connect far quicker.”
As part of the discussion Wardley revealed what it was like working with Snoop Dogg.
“He is the consummate professional, but he is not the most punctual, let’s just say that, he operates in what they call Snoop time… he has consumed more cannabis than wine although he has been a wine drinker over the years, he is not a connoisseur but what he liked that it is a mass market brand, that we were the first to use a black matt label, convicts, collectable corks, and using augmented reality in the wine category. ‘Cali wine’ was a second part of the story, it is less about provenance than the brand itself.”
Making waste sexy
While Martha’s Chard rolls out from February 2022, Accolade Wines’ flat bottled Banrock Station Merlot and Chardonnay gets wider supermarket distribution from this month in the UK although Lucy Clements, operations director for Banrock Station, said that take-up within the on-trade was also accelerating at pace. The bottles which are made from recycled PET are made in conjunction with Garçon Wines, the company best known for its bottles that fit through letterboxes.
“The rate of sale has considerable velocity and our target customers for on-trade are also looking at it particularly with festivals and events where glass cannot be taken into venues. Repeatability is the best form of flattery which we’re seeing with other people tapping into this.”
“These wines are all about ease of drinking, gluggable, park wines and about the outdoors. They’re portable, light, refillable, reusable,” Clements said, alluding to the fact that they tick a number of Accolade’s sustainability boxes, as well as part of her brief in “making waste sexy,” which is to find uses for the vast amount of organic waste that the company produces.
“We have to be more green thinking and it has to be central to our way of thinking…not just to be able to unlock capital but also because it is the right thing to do,” she said.
A billion green bottles….
From a giant Australian wine producer to a far smaller Australian venture but one which is creating waves with its plastic bottle retrieving pledge, Bennie then talked to Richie Vandenberg of The Hidden Sea, an ex-Aussie Rules Football player who has come up with a novel pledge with this new wine brand that he has co-founded in Coonawarra.
With every bottle bought of Hidden Sea wine, the company pledges to remove 10 plastic bottles from the ocean, the target being one billion bottles retrieved by 2030.
“It was important with Hidden Sea to build a brand with a higher purpose, and we wanted to give the consumer something tangible. We are not committing profits, the commitment comes with the purchase of the bottle.”
Vandenberg explained how with blockchain technology there is an accountability inbuilt to Hidden Sea’s business model with consumers being able to use a QR code which shows immediately and exactly where in the ocean the plastic bottles are being removed from.
“People almost always expect a bit more of something from a product these days rather than just the product,” he explained before going on to discuss the importance of ‘vinfluencers’ on the brand’s ambassadors: “people want to feel part of something bigger than themselves…and that authenticity is something a small company can deliver… that feeling part of a tribe.” Vandenberg said that a big influence on their use of social media has been through Flight Centre and how its founder Geoff Harris has successfully built a brand using different tribes.
Future of Drinking: Trailblazers was delivered on Wine Australia’s Connect content platform.