In this article, I provide some suggestions on how there could be improvements to marketing sherry.
Tradition with a futureSuggested strapline
SHERRY — THE PERFECT APERITIF
A poster should include a website at which people could learn more. In the case of a single producer, this could be their home site. But sherry has a marketing issue as a product. It is extremely unfashionable despite being some of the most complex and interesting wine available at the price point. So the poster should work against prevailing negative impressions.
Amazingly enough, the domain http://www.sherry.com is unoccupied. The Consejo Regulador should address this omission. If it existed, it would be a good candidate to use on a poster. A web address on a poster needs to be unambiguous and impossible to forget. sherry.com fulfils those criteria.
To be fair, http://sherry.wine is in use, so a redirect is all that is needed here. The .wine domain is not well-known.
The major problem for sherry is that it has a brand image which repels younger consumers. Health concerns about alcohol consumption worse this. The proportion of fortified wines sold as a percentage of all wines sold has declined from 4% to 2.5% over approximately the last decade.
Some people see sherry as a very old fashioned drink. One’s grandparents drank it. However, it has a devoted following among critics and high-involvement consumers who see it as providing a very high complexity/price ratio. That makes it a cheap way of enjoying complex flavours and aromas.
Marketing Sherry: Targets
The marketing strategy must focus on younger consumers, but must also rely on the heritage of the product. Sherry has an appealing history with the romance of the Solera system and that gives much to work with. The slogan “Tradition with a future” aims to use the historical foundation but also emphasise that sherry will be something to enjoy for many years to come.
There are many different types of sherry which brings two benefits. Consumers could become “sherry explorers.” Marketing sherry needs to focus on greatly expanding the customer base, rather than trying to sell more to existing consumers.
They could try the various types to see if they prefer dryer styles like fino which have been biologically aged or sweeter styles such as pale cream. There is also the probability that almost everyone could find a style of sherry that they like because of the huge variation between the styles.
Sherry is a tightly controlled product. It may only be produced in a small triangle near Jerez in Spain. Marketing can use this a selling point. Ideally any promotion needs to tie in to the tourism operation into the region.
Marketing Sherry: Products
The essential Spanish identity of the product can also feed into the previous “sherry explorer” idea. It is clear that the styles of sherry which are familiar from the cupboard of the UK grandmother will be likely to be pale cream sweet styles. There is nothing wrong with that. The Bristol blue glass of the iconic Harvey’s brand is a marketing success. However, this style of sherry is not even half of the story. The campaign must emphasise that most of the sherry consumed in Spain is unlike that which has passed through Bristol. There is an entire world to explore.
Palo cortado is a product with a great deal of romance. It is probably the best product to be created by accident in the world of wine. Short form video content showing the “broken stick” being chalked would be useful. Overall, much activity in the bodega is highly visual. Typically Spanish imagery is widely available.
The product for the overall campaign is sherry in general, but it would be valuable to approach producers both major and minor to see what financial and other contributions may be available. The generic sherry campaign can establish marketing livery. This can then be further exploited by individual sherry brands. The overall campaign retaining a central point of control to ensure consistency of appearance and messaging.
The “sherry explorer” theme is important here. Producers can set out their different flagship products under the generic sherry brand. All styles of sherry — fino, amontillado, manzanilla, oloroso, palo cortado, traditional cream types, PX — lack brand identity. The wider public will learn that these are all indeed types of sherry and then told the differences between them.
Two angles successfully used in other spirits are a) use in cocktails and b) use in chilled long-drink formats. Both of these are eminently feasible with sherry. Promotional materials could detail the ingredients and procedures to make sherry cocktails. The campaign could show sherry as a cooling long drink when mixed with soda.
Price is a major advantage for sherry since it simply costs much less than wines of comparable quality and complexity. This is almost an advantage of being unfashionable. Successful marketing could employ this.
The strategy is to leverage off “gateway brands.” This does not mean the traditional cream styles. The houses all have entry-level product as an entry point for new consumers and is very reasonably priced. Giving the impression that sherry is cheap should nevertheless be avoided. The range includes vintage product of very high quality.
The main target group is young consumers. Market research could examine whether any existing consumers will trade up. It appears unlikely that the archetypical grandmother who has been drinking Bristol Cream for a lifetime is suddenly going to branch out into aggressively dry aged fino. However, there may be an opportunity to reach some high- involvement consumers who have hitherto focussed on non-fortified wines.
The target group is younger consumers. The marketing demographic name for them is “Millennial Treaters.” So it is inevitable that social media must play a prominent role. Posters are best placed on bus stop billboards initially. They must be tested for efficiency of spend against social media. The initial aim of the campaign is to drive traffic to sherry.com so it is essential that there is a great deal of engaging and valuable content there.
Driving such traffic is best done with short-form video content in the line of Instagram stories or posts from online influencers. Both will be expensive if effective. Posters are effective in timelines. “See link in bio” is a valuable tag to point consumers to the web page.
Consider approaching US-based hispanic celebrities to market the product in Spanish to the worldwide Spanish speaking community. This largely untouched group which might be amenable to a heritage-based line.
Sherry Marketing: Price Promotion
Price promotions would support the campaign. Since the aim of the campaign is to drive web traffic, one approach might be to offer vouchers on the website. These are redeemable for discounts on a BOGOF or other basis.
The redemption could take place in person, but there is no particular reason why it has to be. Online sales are an increasingly important part of every market and will continue to play a significant role. The website could feature separate areas highlighting the products offered by major producers and allowing a central method of buying the product. Major producers already have a solid web presence. They may want traffic directed back to them. This is not a serious problem.
Something central and online is still available to minor producers who will benefit from a clear and well- known online location offering distribution to end customers. Some major producers have an efficient and reliable web operation. Link swaps between their websites and sherry.com are useful for both. Certainly, major producers who are behind the curve in terms of online presence will learn from best practice.
It will be valuable if the same promotions can be available across a wide selection of producers on the same discount basis, but this may be difficult to negotiate.
Sherry Marketing Through Buy-in
Given the essentially Spanish and indeed regional Spanish nature of the product, it will be useful to promote travel to the region. This can also form the basis of useful promotional spend. The website can run competitions, perhaps on the basis of sherry quizzes or just on the basis of luck, where the prizes will be trips to Jerez including tours of bodegas. Rare bottles make attractive prizes.
There is significant buy-in to the product from major critics such as Jancis Robinson. This is helpful, but it means that it is not easy to say how to improve buy-in further. Obviously the launch of a central website would be a significant event in the wine world and so should generate coverage which is likely to be positive. Steps to encourage the such coverage in the right direction are always useful.