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March (No. 494)

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Repositioning Wine Brand Australia, for 2005 and beyond

In late 2003, and throughout 2004, the Australian Wine Export Council (AWEC), embarked on a strategic review of the Council’s role in the industry, and through this, a strategic repositioning of Wine Brand Australia. Grapegrower & Winemaker editor, Anita Donaldson, spoke to AWEC chief executive officer, Jonathan Scott, in January, to discuss the strategic review and its outcomes for Australian wine exporters.

In the early 1990s, “newcomer” Australia was in the “enviable” position, according to Australian Wine Export Council chief executive officer, Jonathan Scott, of having “one less case of wine than the world was demanding”.

Then AWEC was formed in late 1991-92 with a mandate to create awareness of Australia as a producer of wine.

“It was incumbent on AWEC to be promotionally and tactically-focused. Back then, Australia wasn’t an established player in the wine market and the work of AWEC during the 1990s was vital in building the platform of success that we have today,” Scott said.

“Fast-forward to 2005 and we produce two times the wine, from three times the number of producers that we had 13 years ago. The influence of Australia in the wine world in 1992 was negligible, we were an unknown quantity with little export, winemaking technology or development presence. Today, things are very different. Australia is arguably amongst the leading wine-producing nations, if not the country with leading influence in the world of wine.”

Scott singles out R&D, production and marketing of wine and Australia’s export success (19% compound annual growth rate from 1991 to 20031) as the reason why other wine-producing countries have replicated keys to the Australian model, such as Strategy 2025, and The Marketing Decade.

“In today’s competitive context of retail consolidation, resurgent Old World and New World competition, global wine oversupply, slowing global growth in premium price points and foreign exchange fluctuations, the world of wine is very different now from when AWEC was formed, and AWEC needed to change accordingly,” Scott said.

The strategic review of AWEC commenced in 2003 to accelerate this change from AWEC being a promotional and tactical body, to a strategically-focused marketing organisation.

In late 2003, AWEC commenced a survey of licensed exporters, those exporting more than 200 cases of wine. This was followed with interviews with three-quarters of the companies in the top 20 wine companies, and industry forums in 2004.

The key recommendation arising from the consultation process was the need for a repositioning of Wine Brand Australia and the recognition that WBA was a strong umbrella brand and asset that needed to be nurtured and protected to ensure the ongoing success of Australian wine throughout the world.

In mid-2004, Melbourne-based Global Solutions Group was engaged by AWEC to undertake the project to review and reposition Wine Brand Australia. The consultant’s report was presented to AWEC and Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation in late 2004.

Jonathan Scott said the final report contained “no great shocks”.

“The challenges ahead were clear. Competitors were learning from our success. We were no longer the ‘new kid on the block’ and wine writers were increasingly seeing Australian wine as ‘boring’. Australia is not strong in the on-premise market, we struggle to sell more wine at higher price points. The increase in multi-grocery domination of the market is also putting downward pressure on price points and narrowing the Australian wine offer.

“Australia has significant territory to defend in its mature wine markets (UK), significant opportunity for increasing business in developing (USA, Canada) and emerging (Germany, Japan) wine markets and needs to be ready to access opportunity in embryonic (China, India) markets when these markets are ready for us,” Scott said.

Through the review, it became clear that the iconic Wine Brand Australia needed a singular, unifying brand idea to act as a tool for differentiation for Australian wine. And, the brand needed to transcend across all markets, emerging and existing, and across English and non-English-speaking countries.

The report found that Australian wine was being viewed as ‘reliable,’ ‘accessible,’ ‘available,’ ‘safe,’ and ‘everyday’ – which also equals ‘low value’.

“We needed to also ensure that Australian wine becomes synonymous with ‘special occasion,’ ‘surprise,’ ‘diversity,’ and ‘individualistic,’ all of which equate to ‘high value’,” Scott said.

“We need to evolve our story to respond to the competition and ‘own’ a sustainable and differentiated brand position.”

Scott said the visual identity of Wine Brand Australia will be part of future change.

Speaking to Grapegrower & Winemaker in early January 2005, Scott said the strategic review was in the final stages in terms of finalising the identity research for the repositioning of Wine Brand Australia. AWEC plans to role out the repositioning during 2005 with expectation of a major launch in May.

“There’ll be two to three months of preparation after the final sign-off to plan our activities and ensure that when we launch the new Wine Brand Australia, we’ll be launching it with a bang,” Scott said.

“We want to have a solid impact, we’ve opportunity to do something on a large scale that will significantly boost the image of Australian wine. It’s in the interests of all the industry that we do so,” he said.

References


Scott, J. (2004) Wine Brand Australia, the new vision. Global Wine Markets – G. Wittwer, K. Anderson. Wine Industry Outlook Conference, Sydney.



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