Back to wine basics

The pandemic is making consumers choose the safe and familiar, including in wine. Robert Joseph says it's time for wine producers to make life simpler for them.

Photo by Roberto Nickson on Unsplash
Photo by Roberto Nickson on Unsplash

There is, of course, no guarantee that the experience gained from consumer behaviour following the recession of 2007/2008 will be useful as a guide today, but it may be as good as anything else on offer right now.

And, when it comes to wine, one thing seems clear. The people pushing their trolleys around supermarkets are more likely to gravitate towards the familiar than the adventurous. A decade or so ago, UK supermarket buyers like Dan Jago of Tesco, who had once begged suppliers to bring them innovation, regretfully returned to the tried-and-tested. As an innovative producer ruefully said at the time “NPD – New Product Development – is dead”.

Packaging designers such as Kevin Shaw of Stranger & Stranger and Neil Tully of Amphora also found their clients were far less ready to commission labels that broke new ground. Spanish wines had to look Spanish and Bordeaux had to look like Bordeaux.

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