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Australia’s wine marketing is overdue for review

Leading UK wine marketer Mike Paul says Australia’s UK wine market is overdue for review. Delivering Tuesday night’s Wine Press Club of NSW fifth Annual Lecture, Paul issued a wake up call for Australian wine producers: “Australia needs to become a bit more edgy, it needs an injection of personality, of irrationality and should be less obsessed at the premium level with replicating the Old World in order to make significant headway in what is a much more difficult market for Australian wine.”

“Australia was successful largely because it attacked the UK with sound business strategy backed up by the right product at the right time coupled with an irreverent and mould breaking attitude.

“But somewhere along the line, in fact when dealing with the surplus got in the way of brand building and ‘personalities’ kind of took a back seat, the perception of Australian wine changed. It all began to appear a little corporate and the proposition got out of balance given the heavy discounting at the mainstream end.”

Paul noted the Australian proposition is a ladder and a varietal based ladder at that where one can get Chardonnay or Shiraz at every price point.

“This was a huge plus, and represented not just a revolutionary way of marketing wine but an entirely rational way of encouraging trading up — wine for every day, wine for special occasions and often with the same brand.

“But it was an entirely different proposition to the old world which dominates the premium sector in terms of sales and, I would say, mind set (which) has significant competitive advantages”.

However Paul says the success of (the Australian) strategy is dependent on the image at the lower end of the ladder staying strong and that what we have now is a ladder that’s in effect standing on quicksand.

“Australian premiums are linked to a somewhat jaded image of Australian wine as a whole which restricts their own image building efforts.”

He notes further the old world doesn't have ladders — the premiums can avoid any quicksand at the lower end and they are not varietal based propositions so they compete at a crucial level within their own appellation rather than globally.

Paul said for Australian producers to compete with the higher perceived value of old world wines they have to accept wine is an emotional not a rational purchase and to be aware of the power of seduction.

A complete transcript of Mike Paul’s lecture is available at www.winepressclub.com.au/pastEvents.cfm



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