Both Richard Leaver and and Domingo Miguel are well versed in knowing how to source wines and create brands for the countless retailers and buyers they have worked with over the years. They are now ready to use those skills and network of producers to create their own, appropriately named, brand – Savvy Pair – that is focused on bringing “bright, fresh fruit forward wines” to the market from multiple markets. Or as Leaver puts it: “It is unequivocally about us and our experiences, travels, loves and failures!” They talk to Richard Siddle about how they are going to do it.
Savvy Pair is positioning itself as a ‘personality-driven’ wine brand capable of cutting through on shelf, as Richard Leaver and Domingo Miguel.
What’s the secret to a successful wine brand? What do the top selling brands all have in common? Sadly there is not one simple answer to those questions or else our retail shelves and restaurant wine lists would be full of top selling, household wine brands.
Richard Leaver and Domingo Miguel, though, believe, they have part of the answer. The majority of the most recognisable and memorable wine brands all do have one thing in common – personality. It’s hard to achieve never mind put in a bottle.
But they believe they have come up with a concept that allows them to combine their trade buying and sourcing skills to create a brand and range of wines that can stand out on shelf with a clear story that can cut through to the consumer. Together they have re-invented themselves as a wine brand – Savvy Pair with the tagline “Hard to Find, Easy To Drink’ – that captures what they do. Travelling around the world finding producers capable of making them the “bright, fresh, fruit forward” wines they know wine buyers and consumers can’t get enough of.
Leaver explains: “Firstly, it’s authenticity. It is unequivocally about us and our experiences, travels, loves and failures. Secondly, our sourcing policy across at least three sourcing countries. Finally, it’s about our design and tone of voice to consumers.”
A brand, they believe, that can connect to strong minded consumers looking to invest in brands with a purpose that care about how they are made and the impact they have. Savvy Pair is being produced both in lightweight glass, but also the new Frugalpac paper bottle format that takes glass and so much carbon out of its supply chain. Further additional alternative packaging formats, including bag-in-box and cans, are also available.
“We are working with producers that have built their businesses on the back of glass, so we have to be respectful of that, whilst looking to move them to lighter weight styles,” adds Leaver.
A brand that can tell multiple stories and still compete at the critical and super competitive £6.99 to £8.99 price points.
Keeping it simple
“People want things to be simple. This is a brand that is based on what consumer’s want – a story. They don’t really care where the wines comes from, they want a brand they can trust and a wine they can like. They just want to enjoy a great drink they can connect with and share with their friends,” explains Leaver.
Which is what he hopes Savvy Pair wines do. “A wine with personality that captures the fun we have had finding and making it,” says Leaver. “We are not Kylie, or Gary Barlow, or even Cliff Richard, but whenever you talk to anyone outside the wine trade about what your day involves and where you have been, they are fully engaged. I believe that with Savvy Pair we can catch people’s attention and hopefully have them stay with us for the journey.”
Which is they are also trying to create a range of organically sourced wines, which again they know taps into what consumers are increasingly interested in.
Leaver says much of the brand strategy goes back to his days working at Unilever on major consumer goods brands, where keeping things simple and creating brands with a genuine purpose and personality were as important in the early 2000s as they are now. If it can work for Frankie & Benny why not Savvy Pair?
The brand’s design even includes a a ‘Savvy eco pledge’, offering ‘clever finds-eco friendly-well made wines’.
It’s also why they have spent so such a long time on the branding and imagery and the label design – working hand in hand with leading designers, Hill and Sky.
“We have to talk about Aline Nienaber from Hill & Sky, her help has been invaluable to us. We wanted to use the design as part part of the visual tasting note. We want to move away from having to navigate by varietal or blend, but instead engage consumers with the design, get them turning the bottle and connecting with it’s story. With the packaging we also want producers to see the benefit and success of using alternative packaging. There’s no better way of convincing them than with actual sales.”
Working with Frugalpac means they also have the full bottle to play with and that is where they have really been able to tell their story about working together, sourcing, and using their network, to make and buy wine. A wine that looks to capture the spirit of the classic buddy and road movies.
“We also know online is so important – with 44% of people now buying wine online – so the bottle has to look good on a website too,” he says.
Leaver and Miguel are also particularly well placed to only source and use the best quality, value for money wine in each bottle as they both, through their respective independent companies – Leaver’s The Station Drinks and Miguel’s Dorado Wines – have such close ties with leading producers in most major wine producing countries thanks to the work they do with many of the major retailers and discounters – going back over 12 years.
“We have learnt so much from the work we do with all of them,” says Leaver.
Together they estimate they have sourced over 30m bottles of wine for various projects, be it through Miguel’s extensive Spanish network of producers, combined with Leaver’s knowledge of both the rest of Europe and the New World. A combined network that together act like spokes on a wheel that they can tap into and work with as required.
“You have to have consistency of supply when you are working with major buyers,” stresses Miguel.
Which is why they believe Savvy Pair is well placed to benefit from the ever changing wine world in terms of harvest, prices and availability.
“What we are doing,” explains Leaver, “is creating a brand that is not dependent on one sourcing country.” Leaving them free to move with the market, harvest to harvest, to source the best quality but also most value for wines grapes.
Savvy Pair wines
The initial wines in the Savvy Pair range both come from Spain and include ‘Puerto Heights’ for the red, a blend of Garnacha and Tempranillo, and ‘Heartland Plateau’ for the white made from Verdejo and Sauvignon Blanc.
The plan is to create a 10-strong range made up of two wines from Spain, three from France, a couple sourced in Italy and three from across South America – where Leaver has excellent contacts thanks to his time as commercial director in Europe for Santa Rita Estates.
“We are talking to customers and distributors and to producers in different countries about what we can do,” says Leaver. They were able to have stands and cover a lot of ground at both Wine Paris and ProWein. “We can now use Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris and ProWein as a double act,” he adds. “Fairs like this, for people like us, are invaluable.”
For whilst part of their focus is finding retailer partners and building distribution in the UK they also want to build internationally too. “Having a broad network across Continental European markets as well as China means we have a number of options,” says Leaver.
“We need a producer in each sourcing country with great wine, solid technical accreditation, a proven sustainable thread and a willingness to try something new and be responsive to each market. If a producer is interested in working with us we are open and ready to listen,” he adds.
- If you want to hear more about Savvy Pair you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.