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Voyage of Rediscovery

Bodegas Paternina’s decision to revamp the label of its flagship wine, Banda Azul, is attracting newcomers to one of Rioja’s longest established brands

The Iconic brand Paternina Banda Azul (Blue Band) represents everything about Rioja that is traditional. And, according to Carlos Latas, export manager at Bodegas Federico Paternina, having a brand with a traditional reputation is not such a bad thing. “We have done extensive research into who our consumers really are; they are loyal traditionalists and they come back to Banda Azul again and again,” he says.

Latas is well aware that admitting your brand is not at the cutting edge might not be popular with the wine fashion police, but he believes it is an advantage when promoting and selling products to an increasingly fickle consumer. “We have a stable consumer base. Consumers that are constantly trying new things and switching brands are not the ones we want. Yes, I know we’re not fashionable but that doesn’t bother me.”

Founded in 1896 by Federico Paternina Josué, Bodegas Paternina has always had a reputation for producing wines in a classic Rioja style. The distinctive packaging for Banda Azul Rosa (pink) and Dorada (golden) has been in existence since the beginning of the last century and has always been a dominant force on shelves in the domestic market, with the Banda Azul brand representing 60% of the company’s total sales.

But the range’s success is not just limited to Spain. Paternina Banda Azul is the number one Rioja brand in both Switzerland and Denmark and one of the leading brands in Germany. While Latas admits that these markets are mature he believes there is still room for growth: “Business in all the mature markets is hard but the advantage of having a wellestablished brand is that you have a base share of market that ensures some volume, and, whatever the market fluctuation, there is always room for growth when the conditions are good.” He is adamant that the success of the brand is down to the stability of the relationships forged over the years with each of the company’s international importers. “We have a very stable client base having worked with each of our importers for a long time, many of them since the 1960s. We even started working with the Belgians back in 1931,” says Latas.

Despite the long-established relationships and the non-gimmicky image of the brand itself, Latas believes that the Banda Azul brand is still very relevant to today’s consumer. Research embarked upon prior to recent refreshment of the design and packaging showed that 30% of the brand’s consumer fell into the 35-45 age bracket with another 40% being between 40 and 55 years old. “The remainder of our consumers are older than this but this just demonstrates to me that even though the brand has been around for 100 years it has relevance to today’s consumer,” says Latas. “People want a reasonably priced Rioja that is consistent in both quality and price.” If that’s perceived as being boring the fact they are selling over three million bottles a year isn’t a figure to be sniffed at.

With such an established brand a redesign of any sort is a tricky project, but having spent the 1990s investing in the infrastructure of the winery and the vineyards, the company decided it was time to turn its attention to the label. “Refreshing the image has proved a great success,” reveals Latas. “We were not able to make any radical changes but by cleaning up the graphics we have hit the right note in retaining our loyal consumers and encouraging lapsed consumers to retry the product. As a result we have seen a slight but definite uplift in sales.”

Under the strapline Rediscover a Great Classic, the redesign has proved a great success, proving only too well that a brand with a long-established reputation that delivers the right flavour profiles and responds to consumer expectations can retain a very important place in the international market.

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