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LIWF 2012 - UK: Tesco director "disappointed" at lack of wine innovation

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The Tesco category director for beer wine & spirits has criticised the wine industry for its lack of innovation and failure to communicate properly with consumers.

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Speaking at a debate on marketing wine brands at the London International Wine Fair (LIWF) yesterday (22 May), Dan Jago, Tesco's BWS director, said he was “disappointed” by the lack of new ideas in the trade. “It's not my job to do the producers job for them,” he said. “I've got a team of 33 people, but there's about 230,000 in the UK market alone with the know-how. We are slightly outnumbered.

“We do expect the industry to do more thinking about innovation than us and I'm disappointed that there's not enough.”

Jago, who is responsible for Tesco's BWS in the UK and Ireland, argued that most innovation on wine now came from Tesco internally, pointing to its 'Simply' wine range launched last year.

Earlier, Jago said: “What we don't do enough of is talk about the people behind the product and the passion and creativity...I think the wine trade is better at talking to each other than consumers.”

However, Jago admitted that US consumers “like to be sold to”, whereas in the UK drinkers are more likely to look for “the catch”. 

In the same debate, Alex Myers, director of PR agency Manifest, which works with craft brewer BrewDog, said the key is to build up a community around a brand that can relate to the identity, passion and creativity behind it. “BrewDog built a community online and all the best ideas come from that community,” he said. 

Jago referred to social media, like Twitter, as “playtime”. “It does not sell anything, but it amplifies what you're doing,” he added. Myers agreed: “99% of big brands are doing a bad job on social media.”

Jago also said that wine suffers from the problem of “infinite substitution”. If a consumer wants a bottle of wine that is out of stock, he said, they will be happy with another similar bottle. “If you go into a shop wanting Marmite, you'll only want Marmite,” he said.

Earlier, wine writer Jamie Goode, who chaired the debate, said that consumers see a “wall of wine” when they walk into a shop and find it hard to differentiate between brands. 

Jeffrey Slater, global marketing director at Nomacorc, sponsors of the debate, said consumers like a story behind a brand that “stands out from the crowd”. 


Sectors: Wine

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