Gallo: Scary Smart is What They Are

Corie Brown of the Los Angeles Times has written what must be the most intriguing and thought provoking article on wine marketing to appear in a daily newspaper in years. I’ve read it three times today.

The article concerns the Gallo strategy of creating new brands in France and Italy, how they produce wines for an "Americanized" palate, and the research that gets them to the what are essentially, pretty, bland, wines for wine chuggers.

The dismissiveness that top Gallo executives have for the French and Italian wine industries is pretty shocking.

Corie writes:

"European winemakers have lost touch with the American consumer, says Gallo: "Their price points are too high and the explanations of their wines are far too complex." The enormous range of smells and flavors simply overwhelms and turns off most Americans, he says."

"The enormous range of smells and flavors simply overwhelms and turns off most Americans"??
What in the world does that mean? I think that Gallo knows something that all of us knew for sometime. When it comes to selling a $7 bottle of wine…keep it simple stupid. Simple flavors, simple wine.

My favorite part of the article, after the explanations of the market research Gallo conducts is this passage:

" Is Gallo "dumbing down" French and Italian wines to make them palatable to Middle America? I ask.  "Why shouldn’t we?" responds Gerry Glasgow, Gallo’s head of marketing for 23 years. "If we can make wine more appealing by removing the things that some people find objectionable (acids and tannins ) then that’s what needs to be done."  Gallo interrupts, advising Glasgow to sound more respectful of consumers."

Brown has written a stellar article. It’s a must read that raises many interesting questions. Of course, it also reminds those of us who really do like wine that Gallo should be completely ignored if you are looking for wines of any substance.

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