Champagne Marketing on a Lemonade Budget

7th February 2016

champagne marketing on a lemonade budget

I personally think that many Champagne & Sparkling Wine labels are missing the trick re how they present themselves outside of what the contents of each their bottle holds. We must not forget that there are more and more Sparkling Wine labels being created, more are suddenly waking up to the potential to sell internationally which in turn lowers the opportunity for many labels to find new buyers as competition is high. It is how you stay ahead of the competition, how to increase the chances of you being found that will determine your success, especially within the likes of the UK where there is immense choice. Times are changing with the way we market our businesses online, we need to adopt new methods all the time.

From my notes over the last two years since launching Glass of Bubbly, I have tasted over 2,000 different Champagne & Sparkling Wines and importantly, on most occasions, I have studied the visual marketing and the story behind each label / brand… As many will make notes on tasting, I will be making notes on design, wording, innovation, checking website and social media presence etc… Yes, that is why I am on my mobile phone all the time when you see me at tasting events! So what have I seen from the 2,000 + bottles I have studied?

Nearly all will not show anything that makes them stand out individually, a label that is standard and website which have not been updated in years and little to no presence on social media. When speaking to many labels, especially ‘grower labels’, I can certainly appreciate why this is for those who are behind the stand allowing people to taste their wines, are the same who prune the vines, make the wines, do the accounts, deliver the wines and at the same time, try and do the marketing – You just can not be expected to have time to do everything and importantly, be good at everything.

Awards for Champagne and Sparkling Wines

Awards? Yes, these are always good to get and help when it comes to marketing. Though, you could have a trophy cabinet full of awards, and let’s face it there appears to me more and more awards out there these days so picking some up becomes less difficult, and yet it gains you no extra exposure and importantly, no extra sales. Yes, an award sticker on the bottle helps you to stand out when you are looking down a line of wines to taste, it also gives a positive point of sale when it comes to introducing the wine to someone new, but how many of the big / well known labels place these awards stickers on their bottles? This should tell you something…

I usually say that you need to evaluate your marketing budget and time you can offer it, this will determine whether you have the opportunity for Champagne marketing on a Champagne budget, or if you are more towards Champagne marketing on a Lemonade budget. Both very different options, yet if you are clever in what you do, either can be highly effective. Do not forget, many big brands with big marketing spends still make many errors and see very little return on investment and sometimes damage their own brand from poor marketing ideas. Christopher Walkey

One of the biggest marketing opportunities any wine label owns is their bottle, it is the first thing people will see, it is what they read to entice them to buy it and what is inside will determine the outcome of their overall experience – Rather like a book in the library, how one’s choice is usually affected by the cover and synopsis, we never read the whole book (ie drink the wine) in order to make a decision to chose that book to take home with us. We all know the phrase ‘do not judge a book by its cover‘ I am sure, this statement is there in our vocabulary history as importantly most people do in fact judge a book by its cover, likewise with wines I believe, we can be taken in by what the bottle / presentation looks like.

This, of course, is on the level of consumers buying your product, those without a wine education and tasting experience, who’s only way to appraise wine other than a recommendation will be what the label looks like and of course price.

Champagne & Sparkling Wine bottles offers many ways to be unique:

  • Name of Champagne / Sparkling Wine label.
  • Shape, size and design of bottle including material used, coating ie gold, carbon etc.
  • Design of label, colours, shape, quality of printing ie gold embossing, metal badges etc.
  • Use of innovation, ie NFC tags and QR codes.
  • Information on bottle, ie story behind label / makers.
  • Difference within content of bottle, ie gold flakes.

champagne sparkling wine different small

Another big factor when it comes to people buying a wine is of course recommendations. This is a level of marketing that many brands try and get to, where their own clients act as their sales force and actually take it upon themselves to become mini brand ambassadors in such that they help other people to discover your label that you would not normally have found directly. The great Steve Jobs and the Apple brand worked well at this, built wonderful products that those who bought them were proud to own and in fact were so much in love with their products that they become brand advocates by being raving fans, showing people their latest Apple products, telling people they most do similar, getting people to follow their ‘team Apple approach‘.

You can increase chances of people finding your wine label and once they have done they can continue to engage with you brand though only if you make yourself available. Many people do use social media and those who’ve an experience to share (let us face it many people love to share images of themselves during good times and that usually involves drinking Champagne / Sparkling Wine) may take time to tag you in to posts that involves your wine – They suddenly become your ‘raving fans‘, examples links here:

  • Make sure you are present on Social Media. Veuve Clicquot Twitter
  • Make sure you search Social Media to see if you are being mentioned. Hashtags
  • Engage with people on Social Media who mention you. Glass of Bubbly magazine
  • Entice people to engage with you on Social Media, organise competitions that involves consumers mentioning you in their updates. Searcy Champagne Bar giveaway
  • Make sure that your target audience, once they find you, can communicate easily with you and if they wish to find out more, your online presence is catered for them.
  • Basic maybe, but make sure your website can be translated into English if you are looking to enter the UK market, many will not have done this.

It isn’t confined to just what you can do with a bottle, Veuve Cliquot recently released their novelty Champagne boxes allowing senders to record a personal message or spell out a note on the box… Simple yet highly effective to the target audience they have built, many romantics will choose the likes of rosé Veuve Clicquot or Moët, Perrier-Jouët so this certainly helps them to stand out just in time for Valentines and of course for many other special occasions that lovers will celebrate during the year. So what can we look for when it comes to having boxes for your Champagne / Sparkling wine, which of course will cost more per unit overall so will appeal to only a few of your more premium / select sparkling wines:

  • Design of box, colours used, images, embossed, silver/gold foil.
  • Material of box from cardboard to metal tins and more.
  • Contents of box to include extra literature such as limited edition info, glasses etc.
  • Extras such as carry cases, cooler jackets, ice buckets and more.

These extras do appeal to the majority of consumer buyers as they give a feel of more value for money. In the supermarket, a Champagne within a box will give the impression that it is of better quality to befit being in a box. Giving away a free glass, free mini ice bucket, free cooler jacket which may put an extra few pennies or pounds to the overall cost, may generate extra sales. These kinds of additions, depending on the market you are targeting, will get you noticed over the many other labels at the same price that people can choose from – Importantly you will also create further brand awareness after that bottle has been consumed as the branded products you give-away will be re-used over and over again potentially.

The art of selling the same product yet charge a different price intrigues many people. Why do some Champagne sell for £10 a bottle yet others are £10,000’s? Yes, without question many wines deserve their high valuations for many reasons such as their exclusivity, their rare vintage and more, but we also see the industry showing us labels which are very similar in what the bottle holds, yet are at totally different price levels. This is mostly down to marketing as we do see in everyday life, many products and services that produce the same results yet are sold to different target markets at different prices. We know that many places making clothes in China will produce the same quality items for two different brands which one may be a cheap supermarket own brand and the other priced higher only as it carries brands own crest / label. Does a gold bottle, a fancy carry case, a free stopper really make your sparkling wine bottle more expensive… I think that clever marketing, who is selling and where they are selling it, here will point to yes. Just try and tell those behind Armand de Brignac that the way you produce packaging does not have an effect on the price you can charge. Having sat at private tasting events with this brand many of their team will say it is remarkable what has happened and the prices this label of Champagne is at, “but if the consumers are willing to pay that kind of money per bottle then we will continue producing them… ” I have heard them say.

Champagne examples:

All very different, but to the broad mass of the population and many of which will nowadays have a Champagne budget, it is all still Champagne is it not?

The consumer will believe they can tell a lot about a Champagne / Sparkling Wine from its label so think about their thought process when it comes to updating your own labels. What labels stick out for you below, without me sharing my opinions, I am sure you can see what stands out, what is high impacting and what looks boring and will not draw you in?

different sparkling wine labels glass of bubbly

If you have a smaller budget for marketing then I really do believe that the likes of the research above will give you a good understanding how Champagne / Sparkling Wine labels at all different labels are going about marketing their wines to their target audiences. The world and the way it communicates is changing rapidly with the likes of the internet, social media, mobile internet and more changing the way we do most things in our lives from betting on sport to ordering our weekly grocery / drinks – This tells any business, any brand, that they need to be present online and need to be in the places where those who they are targeting are likely to be visiting or, as per social media, hanging out online.

Taking time to make yourself stand out is important, being just another Prosecco label or another Grower Champagne will not make you stand out, whereas adopting ideas from above, ie unique of style of bottle can help you to make an impression. Sometimes it can be the simple things, which many other labels will still not yet be adopting, that can get you noticed,

Quality of content you share, ie images, take your time to produce engaging content, something that will attract interest in your brand, make people want to investigate you further, tempt them in to trying your wine and engaging with you, especially via social media:

Think about associating your wine label with other aspirational products such as jewellery, caviar, yachts, cars – If you can, get an exclusive agreement together and work on joint PR / marketing projects:

Rolex and Champagne

Associate your brand with celebrity faces, events or locations, this is a great way, though costly at times, to get your wines out to a large scale audience as the following these people/places have could be huge:

Many other ways exist in how to make your sparkling wine stand out from the crowd, become the choice for many, sometimes you do not need to have a massive marketing budget to make these ways work well for you.

Christopher Walkey. Founder of Glass of Bubbly.

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