Do you speak Winese?

by | Aug 1, 2016 | Business and Marketing

Winese_ThumbnailSouth African wineries are coming up with innovative ways to attract new consumers in the local market – one being replacing wine jargon with everyday language.

Complicated, uptight, scary, ugly stepsister of champagne … No, we’re not talking about characters from a Disney movie, but these are descriptions many South Africans use when talking about wine.

The Brand SA local marketing strategy, which flows from the Wine Industry Strategic Exercise (Wise), aims to make wine the alcoholic beverage of choice by 2025. The strategy to achieve this goal includes helping consumers understand why and how to choose wine, and what makes wine exciting.

Local wine sales for the year ended April 2016 have grown by more than 7% to 385 million litres compared with 2015. This market currently has 6 million consumers, with the potential to more than double in size.

The strategy aims to increase total annual domestic sales volumes to 525 million litres and grow in terms of value. Research done by The Moss Group and the Consumer Insight Agency (CIA) shows the industry can increase responsible consumption by attracting a significant amount of new consumers and taking existing market share from other alcoholic drinks categories such as beer and spirits.

“The targets are attainable and present a huge opportunity,” The Moss Group director Nicky van Hille says.


While many consumers are trying to buy into the category, wineries aren’t making it easy. The majority of South Africans find wine intimidating, complex and exclusionary. Cultivars are difficult to pronounce and there’s a perception you need to be knowledgeable about wine to enjoy it.

“Only a minority of wine consumers know a lot about wine and are interested in learning more,” Nicky says. “Current marketing and education focuses primarily on these consumers. Major transformation is needed in the way we talk about wine to attract new entrants.”

Future wine enrolment should be approachable, innovative, fun, easy going, exciting, tech-enabled and in plain consumer language. Communication should always be tailored to consumers’ level of engagement, from those who’ve never tried wine before to wine masters.


“The Brand SA project identified 11 consumer segments – four of which were prioritised as future markets for the wine industry,” CIA chief executive Craig Irving says.

It’s important to establish what your consumers know about wine and speak to them at a level that doesn’t intimidate or exclude them. More importantly, a loyal consumer has made an emotional connection with a specific category or brand. Find out what makes them tick and come up with new ways to address their motivations and needs.

Consumers have eight core need states. “Wine currently only talks to a few consumer need states, namely contentment, affiliation, status and discernment, with a strong focus on the latter – a need that’s not particularly relevant to the four future consumer segments. As a result, wine is seen as undesirable and inaccessible,” Craig says.

The wine industry has many key differentiators it can leverage to address these needs. The socially and environmentally sustainable aspects emphasise the need for care and control. The message regarding South African wine’s diversity addresses the need for affiliation.


Another issue highlighted in the consumer research is what the CIA calls “big brand blur”. Consumers find the large number of brands on shelves overwhelming and tend to stick to a few tried-and-tested or suggested names.

The Brand SA strategy highlights the need for innovative packaging and building brands (not labels) to overcome this problem. Other aspects that must be addressed at industry level include reducing the number of product tiers to help consumers with their decision making and a revised channel strategy.

Nicky urges the industry to adopt the Brand SA strategy for their business models. “Growing wine’s share is a win for all role players in the wine value chain – so run with the strategy and work together to make it happen!”


The four consumer segments that hold potential for growth in the local wine market are:


  • LSM 4-6
  • Black, 18-28
  • Urban
  • Part-time employment
  • 21% of RSA population
  • They share an intensity of ambition to achieve material success against the odds. But the 1994 boom has come to a standstill and desirable jobs are scarce.
  • Who are they? Big dreamers, averse to hard work, status and class-conscious, bored.
  • Driven by: Affiliation and status.
  • Catch them in: Trendy township bars.
  • Talk to them in: Cool, relaxed, everyday language based on flavour not cultivar.
  • Tell them about: The versatility of wine, celebrities drinking wine, trendy wines.
  • Show them wine using: Clear, simple messages, free samples, tastings disguised as cool get-togethers.


  • LSM 7-10
  • All races, 18-24
  • Suburbs, township
  • Tertiary education, first career
  • 3% of RSA population
  • They share a confidence that they’re going to be materially successful because they have the necessary kick-start, being a good education. They come from lower- to middle-class backgrounds and are in the spotlight – so there’s enormous pressure to succeed.
  • Who are they? Dreamers of material success, hardworking, status- and class-conscious, driven.
  • Driven by: Affiliation, status, contentment and discernment.
  • Catch them at: Wine and food markets, events for new kids on the block.
  • Talk to them in: Trendy, relaxed, everyday language based on flavour not cultivar.
  • Tell them about: Inspirational wine stories, new trends in wine and food, shopping and serving tips.
  • Show them wine using: In-store screens, wine apps and online courses and tastings hosted by new innovative winemakers.


  • LSM 7-10
  • All races, 25-39
  • Urban
  • Employed
  • 7% OF RSA population
  • They grew up desiring material success and took up the responsibility to realise their dreams.
  • Who are they? Ambitious, materially driven, financially free, status-seeking and class-conscious.
  • Driven by: Affiliation, status, contentment, care and discernment.
  • Catch them at: Trendy wine lounges, wine clubs, by-invitation-only tastings and talks.
  • Talk to them in: Trendy, relaxed, everyday language based on flavour not cultivar.
  • Tell them about: Brands, award-winning wines, pairing, shopping and serving tips.
  • Show them wine using: Tastings by recognised wine personalities, in-store screens, wine apps and online courses.


  • LSM 7-10
  • All races, 35+
  • Township, suburban
  • Middle class. Renovators
  • 8% OF RSA population
  • They work hard to provide a better life for their families. They’ve achieved success and aspire for more, making big sacrifices to give their kids a good education.
  • Who are they? Respectful and proud, seeking stability and quality of life, prioritising their children.
  • Driven by: Affiliation, status, contentment, discernment.
  • Catch them at: Private tastings, talks by tavern owners or stokvel leaders at home.
  • Talk to them in: Relaxed, respectful yet fun language based on flavour not cultivar.
  • Tell them about: Storing, shopping and serving tips, food pairing, finding their style preference and linking it to value for money.
  • Show them wine using: Tastings led by trusted wine personalities, clear, simple packaging and in-store messages.

For more information about the Wise Brand SA strategy, go to

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