Malbec momentum to continue

May 12, 2011
La Journée Vinicole | Spiros Malandrakis, alcoholic drinks analyst at Euromonitor International.

Spiros MalandrakisPerhaps one way of renewing interest in the category and spurring consumers to delve deeper into their pockets is to focus on the less hackneyed grape varieties. The success of varietals such as Malbec and Pinot grigio is well-documented though it remains to be seen whether they can sustain consumer interest or whether they in turn will be replaced by other, native varieties, as yet little known outside their country of origin. Although Euromonitor International does not compile forecasts on grape varieties themselves, it does expect the popularity of Argentinean and Chilean Malbec to retain its momentum over the short to medium term in western markets – “not merely on the back of the grape itself but rather due to their casual character and affordability credentials”.

Other countries have chosen to go down the regionality route in a bid to premiumise their offer. Chile and Australia are well-known examples and are redeploying promotional funding to highlight their regional offerings. Should they succeed in convincing the consumer that regionality is the way forward, this may in turn have positive knock-on effects for countries such as France where regionality is still by and large the basic tenet of wine growing. However, for Spiros Malandrakis regionality may prove to be a double-edged sword for countries that have based their approach to marketing and retail on brands. “Regionality could potentially prove to be a vital tool in educating consumers and providing a more premium brand halo to respective products which are hence moving away from the generic, lower-end associations of the past. But here lies the problem: accessibility and simplification are also essential attributes for any successful branding campaigns and detailed reference to regions that might not necessarily be instantly recognisable by the average consumer could potentially backfire leading to more confusion than brand equity”.