Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Blossom Hill Wines: For Older Women?

What type of wine does a woman, aged 35+, want to buy and drink?

Recent reports indicate that women buy 60-80% of the wine sold in the U.S. And it appears that the U.S. is not alone in this regard. Great Britain also appears to have more women than men purchasing wine. It is only natural then that wineries would specifically market wine toward women.

Blossom Hill winery is located in Paicines, CA in the San Benito Appellation. It is owned by the mega-company, Diageo. The primary markets for Blossom Hill include the United Kingdom, Ireland and Scandanavia. It is one of the top selling wines in the United Kingdom. And Blossom Hill is primarily geared toward women. Some new products and marketing are being directed toward women, especially women aged 35+.

For one, as mentioned in Wine & Spirit, Blossom Hill will soon be available on tap at some British pubs and taverns. They have created a new draught system which ensures the wine is delivered at the proper temperature. Second, they have created 250ml mini-wine bottles, about 1/3 the size of the average wine bottle. It is the rought equivalent of an 8 ounce glass of wine. And now, even their bottling is being marketed specifically to women aged 35+.

Talking Retail, in an article "Blossom Hill Gets 'Radical' New Look," reports that Blossom Hill has redesigned their wine bottles to appeal to older women. Much consumer research and profiling was done prior to the bottle changes. What changes were made? First, take a look at the new bottle in the Talking Retail article. Then, go to the Blossom Hill website to see what the bottle looked like before as they have not changed the bottle look there yet.

The big changes? Originally, the wine label was generally centered on the bottle and was rather plain in appearance. On some of their brands, there were two labels, though both were also rather plain. In the new bottles, the label has been made smaller and dropped down toward the bottom of the bottle. And they added a flower, either yellow, red or blue (or at least those are the colors they seem to be to me).

A flower??? Is that what will interest women aged 35+ to buy wine? Forget the fuzzy animals on the labels and put a flower instead? Viscerally, I think it is insulting to feel that such women would care whether there was a flower on the label or not. It seems to be catering to stereotypes. Yet fuzzy animals do sell a lot of wine so why not a flower? Maybe this is slick marketing.

How would their marketing differ if their target consumers were women aged 21-35? Would they replace the flower and if so, with what?

Somehow I doubt that the female bloggers I know would be swayed by a flower on a label. But are they a different type of consumer than the average woman? A more savvy, wine-knowledgeable consumer?

This all brings new meaning to the phrase "flower power."


Sean said...

Hi Richard,

I'm amused by Blossom Hill's new UK strategy to appeal explicitly to women. It's reminiscent of the one currently being followed by the French winemakers Sublimelle who we interviewed and reviewed at in January. Sublimelle is definitely of the opinion that women have a unique sense of smell that affects their wine preferences and the characteristics they seek in the wines that they drink.

As much as I wish the nice guys at Sublimelle well (even if I think that their concept, “wine for women”, is a bit sexist), I suspect that the inferior Blossom Hill will see the greater success for the simple fact that Diageo is a very powerful company with extensive sales agreements in pubs and bars throughout the UK and a huge advertising operation. They are also a company that treats their Blossom Hill label as assembly line wine, which no doubt explains their draught system and mini bottles and their huge sales figures. Blossom Hill is ubiquitous wine, advertised everywhere, and almost always on sale. As you write, it will be interesting to see the power of the flower.

On a side note, there are already a couple of wine shops and restaurants in London that have sophisticated machines that all protect their wines from oxidization and allow for on tap service. There’s a nice little example of one of them at the

Richard A. said...

Hello and welcome Sean:
I was unaware of Sublimelle though I know of other wineries that have attempted to market wines specifically toward women. It certainly makes business sense if women are the primary purchasers of wine. Though I don't really agree with the ways they are choosing to market them.

I would agree with you on Diageo. It certainly is a powerful company able to market their products very extensively.

The U.S. has similar "tap" machines as well, usually referred to as Enomatics. They are mainly in wine stores, used to provide wine samples. Some stores charge a fee for their use while others allow free wine tastings.


Dr. Debs said...

OK, this really ticks me off. I'm so mad I have to go and write a post about it--with all due credit to Passionate Foodie for stirring me up so much. Thanks, Richard. I don't have my response yet, but this is just another amazing example of how very much advertising and marketing people do not understand female wine drinkers. At all.

SB Wine Advocate said...

This is so lame and insulting. How can women just want 1 type of "branded" flower wine. the whole fun of wine is trying different producers. If you want to market to women make well balanced and nuanced wines that have character. I find women typically object to the big hot fruit bombs as too sweet and boozy.. We don't need a flower, we need thoughtful craftsmanship and care in the vineyard and winery! Oh and variety. Haven't these marketers ever watched how a group of women eat together. We all order a dish or just lots of appetizers and split it. The more complex and engaging the food experience the better. Same goes for wine!

Taster B said...

I'm sure they have done their market research and judging by the website, they are using the same imagery as many other "products" marketed toward women--I can think of at least 5 t.v. commercials or magazine layouts I've seen in the last 2 weeks that look exactly the same.

My only question: Since when is 35+ considered "Older Women"? ;)

Seriously though, for every serious wine drinker female or male, there are probably 10 'beverage consumers' that fit the profile as a potential target of this White-Zin-pushing marketing package.

Richard A. said...

I did use the term "older" which is a comparative term, and not "old." :)

35+ is "older" than the millenials who are often the main marketing target currently.

And I qualify as one of the "older men."