Roadkill Red Wine

Maybe it’s my natural aversion to things "cute", but it does appear we have a candidate for the most overused term in wine for 2006: "Critter Wine".

Are we tired of this yet? Not the "critter wines", clearly, but the term?

ACNielsen tells us that that according to their sales figures 18% of new table wine brands released over the past year that achieved sales of $20,000 or more in 2005 had "critters" on the label. The sales of these new wines accounted for more than $600,000,000.

Danny Berger of ACNielsen explains the trend:

"While placing a critter on a label doesn’t guarantee success, it is
important that wine makers realize that there is a segment of consumers
who don’t want to have to take wine too seriously. Not
only are they willing to have fun with wine, they may just feel ‘good’
about an animal label presentation."

"Feel Good"?…..Hmmm.

This is obviously why not ALL "critter labels" succeed. I now understand that it wasn’t the unusual ingredients in the wine, but probably the illustration on the label of my "ROADKILL RED" that hampered its sales.

I don’t want to get in the habit of addressing FERMENTATION readers with anything but a straight face. So let me add, "Critter Wines" are not a trend. We are not at the mid point or even the endpoint of fad that will play itself out soon. The whimsical and "fun" labels that used to grace perhaps only "second labels" or the occasional "Barefoot" wine is now an important part of wine marketing and packaging.

There appears to be an emerging consensus that to introduce a national brand in the $6 to $10 range, it will sell better if it’s cute, even adorable, perhaps mammalian, but reptilian is OK, while marsupial works well too. Just not dead.

2 Responses

  1. Tish - March 21, 2006

    That is a wonderful image, Tom! Seriously, I agree with you, and the AP story is a nonstory really. I think the real key is that marketers are digging deeper into their humor wells. Critters were really just that start of that trend, which may branch out as it accelerates. Not coincidentally, I just finished a piece on humor in wine marketing for the May issue of Wines & Vines.

  2. Erwin Dink - March 22, 2006

    Critters. Cutesy. Insipid. Pablum. It’s not the fault of the masses supposedly being catered to but the marketing geniuses who don’t have the imagination to come up with original ideas. Graphic designers look for something that worked for someone else and then steal it. Homogenization is everywhere, we’re just now starting to see it in the wine trade as it expands from a niche market to a mass market. Ick.

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