Ben Kennedy
The views expressed in db Reader do not represent the views of the drinks business.

A case for unified marketing for France

14th January, 2014 by Ben Kennedy

Despite the efforts of French politicians, there may be a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel for marketing French wines.

bgt 1I bring you tidings of great joy! Now that Christmas is over, especially here in France where the yuletide season lasts all of about an hour and a half, the good news that I would like to spread came to light today, while I was on a panel examining business students in my sort-of-teaching role at the Bordeaux International Wine Institute. It just so happened that a group of future wine industry leaders (we like to think of them that way) proposed a plan to unite all the different regional French wine bodies – Bordeaux’s CIVB, Burgundy’s BIVB, Champagne’s CIVC, InterRhône, etc. – under one overarching organisation which would serve to promote the unified cause of French wines at home and abroad.

For two decades now I have tried to explain to French wine professionals the value of an open-plan, national stand at your average trade event, such as the Wines of Chile pavilion, or the equivalent from almost any New World wine producing country. These benefit from strength in numbers, and in my experience the stand layout usually allows producers to present and even promote their friends’ or competitors’ wines if they happen to be absent when a visitor wants to taste. The French prefer to erect partitions between each producer’s area, and their response to an enquiry into another producer’s wines is more likely to be one of disinterest or even unhelpfulness.

From the consumer’s point of view, if you want to find out loads of cool stuff about wine from most countries, you are but a Google’s throw away from all you can ingest. Wine Australia, Wine Institute of California, Wines of South Africa, Wines of Argentina, Wines of Chile – you name it, you can find it in a jiffy. The message is bold and bright, upbeat and engaging. Try the same approach with “French wine” and the result is not so immediately gratifying: the government’s “min of ag and fish” does have a site for wine, and it will come up on the first page of results, but it mainly offers information on food and wine pairing and is hard to use and frankly rather drab.

For the proudly paradoxical citizens of the Fifth Republic, whose culture is supposedly founded on fraternité (with equal measures of liberté and égalité), the idea of fraternising with their neighbours still seems to be out of the question. Another concept which is often cited but rarely witnessed is solidarité, both in business and in the wider society. The deep-seated insularity of the French, which prevents them from taking an interest in what is happening next door or across the road, also prevents the nation’s wine industry from clubbing together for the common cause of promoting French wines, as their foreign competitors’ manage to do so well.

Having vented a little spleen, I return to the good news: so, a team of youngsters suggested today, unprompted and of their own free will, that French wines would benefit from a unifying body. So I asked them who would finance this activity, to which they quite sensibly replied that funding should come in part from the industry’s members, and in part from government. Undaunted by the gargantuan task of getting the different regions to cooperate on such a scale (brave young souls…), they did recognise the possibly insurmountable challenge of getting money out of a government whose Loi Evin has criminalised almost every effective form of promotional activity around alcohol.

I know, one swallow does not a spring make (and as we in the wine trade know, it’s better to spit anyway), but this did strike me as possibly a defining moment in the future of French wine. Will the young French wine professionals of tomorrow finally become more globally aware, and be able to respond pragmatically to the challenges they face? If so, who knows, we may be within a generation of some real progress being made in this field.

Ben Kennedy
info@rivegauchewines.com
Tel: +33 (0) 5 56 57 18 65
Twitter: @thewinebuffer
Facebook: Rive Gauche Wines

Rive Gauche Wines is a Bordeaux négociant which offers a range of wines for everyday drinking as well as Crus Classés and other Fine Wines.  The company was established in 2011 by Ben Kennedy, formerly Bordeaux buyer for a leading St James’s merchant.  The wines on our list are hand-picked on the key criteria of quality and value-for-money, and include numerous undiscovered gems that are exclusive to Rive Gauche.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to our newsletters

Job vacancies

Brand Ambassador – Santa Rita Estates

Santa Rita Estates
London or Hertfordshire but with flexibility to travel, UK

Sales Executive - Wine and Spirits Awards

The Drinks Business
Central London, UK

On-Trade Channel Manager

Delegat Europe Limited (UK)
London / Midlands, GB

Trade Marketing Analyst

Delegat Europe (UK)
London, GB

Key Account Executive

Delegat Europe Limited (UK)
London / Midlands, GB

Senior National Account Manager

Bibendum PLB
London, UK

ON-TRADE Sales Executive

Roberson Wine
London, UK

OFF-TRADE Sales Executive

Roberson Wine
London, UK

Judging Week Runners

Decanter World Wine Awards
ExCel Centre, London E16, UK

Sales Administrator

Les Caves de Pyrène
Guildford, UK

Retail Commercial Executive

Laithwaite's Wine
Theale, Berkshire

Wine Buyer

Conviviality Plc
Crewe, UK

Sales Account Manager - On-Trade

Berkmann Wine Cellars
Liverpool

Sales Account Manager - On-Trade

Berkmann Wine Cellars
M3/M4 corridor

Media Sales Manager - Hong Kong

The Drinks Business Hong Kong
Hong Kong

The Global Merlot Masters 2017

Deadline : 31st March 2017

The Prosecco Masters 2017

Deadline : 10th March 2017

db Awards 2017

Deadline : 28th April 2017

The Global Organic Masters 2017

Deadline : 3rd March 2017

Click to view more

The Global Sparkling Masters

the drinks business is thrilled to announce the launch of The Global Sparkling Masters

The Global Rosé Masters 2016

the drinks business is proud to announce the launch of the Global Rosé Masters 2016.

The Prosecco Masters 2016

Now in its third year, the competition will reflect the growth in popularity of this fresh and exciting sparkling wine from the picturesque regions of Veneto and Friuli.

The Global Pinot Noir Masters 2016

After the success of last year’s competition that judged over 250 wines from no less than 16 countries, the drinks business is proud to announce the third year of the Global Pinot Noir Masters

Click to view more