The pandemic wines

Back in 2019, before anybody had heard of Covid-19, wineries prepared for their 2020 wine launches. Jeff Siegel looks at what happened next.

Snoop Dogg has collaborated with 19 Crimes
Snoop Dogg has collaborated with 19 Crimes

Want to successfully launch a new wine brand in the US during a pandemic? It’s easy. Just put a celebrity on the bottle.

Because wines by rapper Snoop Dogg and Grammy winning singer Mary J. Blige were instant hits during the Covid-19 lockdown, which started in March in the United States. Both far exceeded expectations, and their sales numbers would have pleased marketers even during the old normal.

Yet their very success demonstrated just how difficult it was to introduce new products during  the lockdown, when none of the old normal market approaches were practical. The pandemic made almost all of the on-premise market irrelevant. Plus, it eliminated promotional retail and trade tastings and limited most sales calls. The new wines that thrived, say analysts, benefited from some kind of built-in advantage, whether it was celebrities or unique packaging or a loyal audience willing to buy direct to consumer. In this, a variety of canned-wine launches also did well, speaking to the power of innovative packaging.

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