Launching a new wine into a South African market saturated with 8 000 brands might be akin to jumping into a pool of sharks wearing a Speedo made from Kalahari biltong. But where there is a will, there is a way, and for Orange River Cellars the word “impossible” does not exist.
Hence the success of Delush, a new wine brand that hit the shelves in the beginning of 2017 and is out-performing the initial forecasts Orange River had set itself.
“Being a large winery harvesting some 120 000 tons of grapes, we have always been on the look-out for ways to add value to our wine,” says Koos Visser, marketing manager for Orange River Cellars. “Bulk-selling to other brands is one option, and while our Orange River range is settled in the conventional market we were set on creating a wine for the new generation of fashionable urban black wine drinkers. This is where the growth in the local industry is happening and to ignore it is a great mistake.”
Once the project had been approved, the old adage of failing to plan is planning to fail came into play.
“Market research is non-negotiable when investing in a new brand as you can’t determine the true identity of your consumer if you have not seen them, heard them speak and listened to what they have to say. So there were weeks of research on the name, packaging and – most important – the taste of the wines,” he says. For these consumers, it is about taste, value and the look of the brand. Conventional wine references to terroir, regionality and natural elements are not heard when talking to this audience. It is about the brand.
And together with a national team of determined and hungry sales-persons committed to seeing Delush win in the market-place, the next most important hurdle was targeted: distribution.
“We call it liquor to lips,” says Visser. “You can have the biggest launch event with the loudest music and the most visible promotions and advertising campaign, but if the product is not on the shelf, it is a dead-duck.”
Since the launch early this year, Delush has created a sales-team and a logistic war-room to ensure the brand is visible, on-shelf and available for tasting. “Wine is a people’s product, and it is people who take that final step in convincing others to try or buy a product. Here we ensure our team are totally dedicated to Delush and have set-up internal Whatsapp groups where the infectious enthusiasm with which we sell the brand is proudly shown, talked-about and monitored.”
On the communication and marketing side, Delush were equally focussed largely relying on social media as well as a radio campaign seeking young fashionable and inspiring young ladies who form the picture of the ideal Delush consumer.
“The Delush Diva Campaign rolled out with Gauteng radio giant YFM attracted thousands of entries into this competition,” he says. “And the winner, Siwelile Thusi, has become the Face of Delush in her own right, attracting media articles and fantastic social media support. We now have a face to the brand, which has taken it to a whole new level.”
With Delush now well past the 1 million litre mark, and the market now really beginning to take notice of this new kid on the block, Orange River Cellars will agree this has been a plunge worth taking. And eyes are set on Delush being one of the local wine industry’s most noticeable brands in 2018.