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Hopes pinned on 09 to wean consumers off ‘nouveau’

(First appeared in La Journée Vinicole edition number 203, 19 November 2009)

For decades now, November has traditionally been ‘Beaujolais Nouveau’ month, both in France itself and across the world.

However, despite what is undoubtedly one of the wine world’s most successful marketing initiatives, the popularity of Beaujolais Nouveau has been gradually dwindling year-on-year.

Although the origin of the decline, particularly in France, is due to a combination of factors — some of which are inherent to the structure of the country’s wine market — for the past couple of years, the region’s marketing board has decided to grasp the nettle and completely revamp its approach to marketing.

One of the board’s avowed aims is to modernise the image of Beaujolais Nouveau by shunning traditional marketing strategies such as use of radio campaigns and relying more heavily on poster advertising. Last year, popular artist Ben was commissioned to produce a ‘Pop art’-inspired poster in an attempt to win over younger generations.

Concurrently, the board is focusing a lot more on its premium offering – out of an overall budget of 2 million euros for the French market, no more than 600,000 are now used for Beaujolais Nouveau.

Similarly, whilst Japan as the primary destination for Beaujolais nouveau was the target of a major marketing push last year, France has come back into the spotlight this year with the board adopting a more ‘aggressive’ tack than in previous years.

Over the years Beaujolais has become a victim of its own marketing success and failed to make consumers more aware of its ten growths, though also its generic but non ‘nouveau’ Beaujolais and Beaujolais Villages.

ut can it be blamed when, even now, ‘nouveau’ still provides an income for around 50 percent of the region’s winegrowers?

The aim, therefore, is to gradually wean the industry off ‘nouveau’ and head towards the markets of tomorrow, which InterBeaujolais believes will focus on premium, laying down wines.

With Beaujolais synonymous with quaffing wines for the majority of consumers, the board certainly has its work cut out in trying to convince them it can also be a quality, year-round wine with regional character.

It will also have to persuade multiple retailers and indeed shipping firms that the price difference between ‘nouveau’ and other Beaujolais wines must be significant if the latter group is to be promoted successfully.

With the 09 vintage looking decidedly promising, hopes are high that it will help the regional wine industry turn its fortunes around and impress upon consumers the need to switch to more serious Beaujolais.



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