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France is still the world’s most important wine market, and producers from Bordeaux, Burgundy, the Loire Valley, and the Rhone Valley – including Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Chateau Margaux, and Domaine de la Romanée-Conti - are among the most recognizable names in the global wine industry today. However, there is still room to create a new premium wine brand in Paris, as long as you understand the key components of what makes a good wine a truly great wine.
Distribution is key for establishing a premium wine brand in Paris. You will need to get your brand into the top retail stores where Parisians shop for wine. While wine e-commerce is growing in popularity within France (nearly one in three French consumers have shopped for wine online), the real action happens at retailers, wine merchants, and supermarkets, which is where Parisians typically buy their wine.
Thus, one key part of your strategy needs to be getting your wines into some of the best-known retail locations for wine within Paris. Three names stand out as prestigious locations where you would want to gain distribution for your wines: Legrand Filles et Fils (considered to be the “grandfather of all Parisian wine retailers); Lavinia (the biggest wine shop in Paris); and La Cave du Bon Marché (located within the Grande Epicerie de Paris).
Since a determining factor in the quality and prestige of a wine brand is terroir, it is perhaps no surprise that appellations matter significantly when it comes to establishing a premium wine brand in France. Wine consumers simply won’t take your wine seriously if it is not coming from a region known for its terroir. Even if your winery is not located in Bordeaux or Burgundy, it is still possible to leverage the buzz and excitement around up-and-coming wine appellations that are just now gaining popular attention.
And France is home to many of these appellations. Take, for example, Cairanne (located in the Southern Rhone), which Decanter recently highlighted as one of the most noteworthy emerging regions for wine in France. Cairanne just received its Cotes du Rhone cru status, even though the appellation itself was first established back in 1953. Until 2016, Cairanne had Cotes du Rhone Villages status. Combine that with the fact that wines from the Rhone are currently experiencing a spark of newfound popularity, and you can see how the red GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre) wines of a wine appellation like Cairanne could become the basis for a premium wine brand in Paris.
As a dynamic, vibrant wine nation, France is home to a surprising number of up-and-coming wine appellations that may be unfamiliar to newcomers to the French wine market. Decanter, for example, recently highlighted several other appellations that are attracting industry-wide attention: St.-Péray (Northern Rhone), Lalande de Pomerol (Bordeaux), Menetou-Salon (Loire), Cahors (Southwest France), and Maury Sec (Roussillon). Cahors is interesting because it is known first and foremost for its Malbec wines. When most people think about Malbec these days, they think of Argentina. But you can easily imagine how a marketing campaign based around the theme of “the original home of Malbec” could help to propel a wine brand to premium status in Paris.
In a crowded marketplace, the packaging and labeling of your wine can help it to stand out in a crowd. It is best, of course, if this packaging and labeling reflect the specific demographic that you are looking to attract. For example, let’s say that you are trying to attract the premium end of the marketplace for young millennial wine drinkers. In that case, you should check out what Maison Le Star has done to win over the millennial wine market. At the 2018 ProWein event, Maison Le Star announced two new ranges, both targeted at millennials: Le Star Bordeaux and Le Star. Le Star Bordeaux was designed to be the slightly more expensive upscale range, while Le Star was designed to be a more affordable everyday wine. To back up this product launch, Maison Le Star also rolled out an accompanying a fun, dynamic social media campaign based around the idea of “the French touch.”
One, time-tested tactic for breaking into the French wine market is by attending the biggest events within the wine industry. There, you can meet the wholesalers, distributors, retailers and brand-building experts who can take your brand to the next level. The optimal strategy, of course, is to have an exhibition booth on the trade show floor, so that you can interact with interested buyers.
Some of the events that help out in the wine scene are:
Bordeaux Wine Festival
Future Drinks Expo
Attending wine events offers a tremendous amount of opportunity to get your brand noticed and recognized as a new premium player in the French marketplace.
Finally, one way to build a premium wine brand in Paris is to win medals and awards at competitions, preferably those held within France. For the average wine consumer, there is simply no better mark of quality than a 90-point rating or a Gold medal in a prestigious wine competition. If you are able to win a medal or award, then this should become part of the overall marketing of your wine. On social media, for example, you can feature updates about this award-winning wine. On the bottle label, you can highlight any award or medal that you win in a competition. And when reaching out to journalists in the media, you can seed any story about your new premium wine brand by referencing these awards.
The French wine industry is highly competitive, but there are still plenty of opportunities to create a premium wine brand in Paris. With the right packaging and labeling, the right distribution, and the right marketing strategy, you can transform your wine brand into one for which consumers are willing a pay a significant premium.