Five-minute mentor: Katherine Harris

by | Jul 1, 2016 | Business and Marketing

KatherineHarrisTalking to experts in the wine industry is a huge help to guide the less experienced. This month Wanda Augustyn speaks to wine marketing authority Katherine Harris.

How do you market wines in a premium price range?

The Laurence Graff Reserve, our proprietor’s flagship wine, is a limited release of the top barrel selection and only available in exceptional vintages. It retails for R 2 875 a bottle. With icon wines such as this, it’s all about building the anticipation. The initial launch of the Laurence Graff Reserve coincided with its first Platter 5* rating serving as validation of the high price tag. This triggered the anticipation and now we maintain it. With only 1 500 bottles produced we work on an allocation basis which is strictly managed so that each new vintage is sold out on allocation and before official release.

Some of your wines are sold only at Delaire Graff. Why is this a sensible option?

Over the past five years our portfolio of wines has grown from nine to 15. Many of the new inclusions have grown organically as a result of the demand from our two restaurants. The Chenin Blanc, for instance, was initially produced to meet demand from Indochine for a perfect accompaniment to the light, fresh flavours of Asian cuisine. To this we add a number of singlevineyard wines which are limited in production. The exclusivity of these wines, only on offer through the estate, enhances the overall experience for our guests.

What does your target market look like?

Our target market has a discerning palate. They are informed consumers who are privy to the latest wine ratings and trends locally and internationally and base their wine selection on consistent quality. They are largely visitors – South African and foreign – who have been to Delaire Graff Estate and want to relive the experience and elegance of the estate after they’ve left. The wines offer a tangible memory.

Do you choose your target market or do they choose you?

It’s really 50/50. As our estate has a large hospitality component with two restaurants, a boutique hotel and luxury spa, we receive guests throughout the year, creating a captive audience whom we are then able to convert into long-term clients. On the other hand, given our relationships within the hospitality industry, we have the opportunity to connect with other properties that cater for the same clientele and capitalise on the brand association in a comparative market. By partnering with these properties we offer unique opportunities to their guests through private tastings and winepairing dinners, creating long-term partnerships and brand synergy.

Do you see any trends in the wines you sell?

While many markets have experienced a decline in sales volume, consumers aren’t shy to pay a higher price. Quality trumps quantity. The trend towards dry Rosé is a prime example. Both locally and internationally there’s been a significant upswing in sales of premium dry Rosé in the retail market. Some consumer reports in the United States have cited as much as a 50% increase in sales of Rosé costing more than $12 (about R180) a bottle. As expected, we’ve started to see the same trend in the South African market.

What do consumers visually want on a bottle of wine?

There’s been a trend in recent years towards craft design on wine labels, which has been well received. Yet for Delaire Graff Estate, a brand at the pinnacle of luxury, our labels are a symbol of the reserved elegance and sophistication of the Graff name. While the design is minimalist, the consumer experiences layers of texture, creating a multisensorial impact before the bottle has even been opened.

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