Percy Fox & Co Templefields House River Way Harlow Essex CM20 2EA Tel: 01279 633542 Fax: 01279 633827 E-mail: KEY CONTACTS Agency director Simon Lawson Marketing manager Mark Fells Trade marketing manager Nadege Harrison Trade sector manager, multiple off trade Les Williams Trade sector manager, independent off trade John Hearn key brands · Blossom Hill · Rosemount · Glen Ellen · Two Oceans · Champagne Pommery · Michel Lynch · Domaine La Chevalière · Domaine Laroche We may know our Chardonnays from our Chablis, but the maturing UK wine market is unlikely to reach the giddy heights of consumption seen just across the Channel. "I don't think we will get to the levels the French see each year at around 60 litres per head," says Mark Fells, marketing manager for distributor Percy Fox & Co, "but there is clearly scope from the estimated 16 litres per head in the UK." He sees the continuing trend towards eating out and home entertainment driving volume, while at the same time eroding the consumer's price sensitivity. "Consumers often compare wine prices with the cost of other drinks like beers and lagers," says Fells. "As wine becomes more integrated into our lifestyle habits, then our repertoire will develop, prompted by the occasion. The average consumer who buys a bottle of wine to drink with a pizza in front of the video may purchase an easy drinking wine like Blossom Hill Red or White. But if they are having a dinner party they may go for a varietal like Blossom Hill Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon. The fact that the rsp is slightly higher is less of an issue for them because they are buying for a specific occasion. "We are already beginning to see the start of this change. Blossom Hill varietals accounted for only 10% of total volume three years ago. Today, it's around 25%." Know your consumer The key to establishing trade up is to understand what the consumer is looking for and have the portfolio to deliver it, says Fells. Key to that is brands. "Brands provide reassurance and recognition for consumers in a fragmented and diverse market," says Fells. "That doesn't mean brands have to be boring ­ quite the opposite. "For many consumers, varietal wines are an experiment if their usual purchase is a blend. The brand recognition gives consumers the confidence to try that experiment as they are associated with a consistent style and presentation. Wines such as Blossom Hill White Zinfandel, Sparkling, and Red Zinfandel all fall into this category. At a higher level, the work of Rosemount in Australia and a company like BeaulieuVineyards in California are all pushing the boundaries forward." The term New World' is, he believes, now synonymous in the consumer's mind with brand' since the best known come from countries outside the traditional wine producing regions. "But, as we move forward this won't necessarily be the case. I'm sure we will see traditional areas like southern France continuing to build their branded presence. Italy also has the potential to develop what they have achieved so far with wines like Super Tuscans. "South Africa and South America have a great deal of potential and will continue to develop, and as they do, the established New World will respond." One stop shop Percy Fox is ideally placed to take advantage of this war of the old and new worlds, says Fells. "We have, over the years, added a high level of expertise and resource in understanding both the customer and the consumer, and that allows us to deliver portfolios that are attractive to both," he says. "We have become something of a one stop shop' for some of the best in New World wines, including Blossom Hill, the portfolio from South African Wine Cellars, and wines from Chile, NZ and California." But he predicts the growth in vin de pays will unlock new consumer curiosity in French wines. "There has always been an interest and reverence for French wine at the very top end of the market. Having said that, the price and the fact that many are unbranded and don't mention the grape varieties, make it difficult for the consumer. If you couple this with the difficult nature of the wine ­ which often requires decanting and cellaring ­ it becomes obvious why New World brands have had such an impact. "Despite this, all the skills and resources are still there in France and, with the recent addition of the Piat d'Or brand to our portfolio, this is an area of significant interest for us." {{Z SUPPLEMENTS }}