They say beer and wine don’t mix, but in the case of Toasted Head wine, bringing the two together created the perfect elixir. Food and wine festivals have long been the platform of choice for wine brands in search of loyal vinophiles. But Constellation Wines-owned Toasted Head this year has been breaking with convention and activating at beer and music festivals instead. In-depth consumer research revealed that the Toasted Head consumer and the craft beer consumer had a lot in common.
“Our target is 25- to 33-year-old millennials that have a ‘work hard, play harder’ mentality within an independent entrepreneurial spirit. Toasted Head fits into that because our taste profile happens to be pretty unique from the ultra-premium Chardonnay segment. Everything we do is based off that taste profile which is somewhat off-beat, because we actually hand stir about 19,000 barrels a year that we use for our wine. It’s very hand-crafted and personalized, which is part of this spirit of individualism,” says Lisa Pyrczak, marketing director at Ravenswood, Toasted Head and Blackstone. “That was the key consumer insight that led us to these beer festivals versus participating in a standard wine festival.” It’s also an excellent way for the wine to stand out.
These key insights translated into a 400-square-foot experience featuring a barrel-shaped tasting bar under an earth-toned tent as its centerpiece to play up Toasted Head’s use of oak barrels. Smaller barrels were peppered throughout for décor, as well as a life-size rendition of its fire-breathing bear logo. Consumers could learn more about the brand and sign up to its Facebook page via iPads. They also walked away with branded magnets, pairing notes and a Warhol-style poster of the Toasted Head bear (Grand Central Marketing, New York City, handled).
These types of consumer insights are critical to the wine category, which is incredibly “clogged and fragmented,” says Pyrczak. The basis for all of Constellation Wines’ consumer insights and segmentation is its “Gnome Project,” which pinpoints which brand’s personality matches which consumer type, such as the “Image Seeker” or the “Traditionalist.” The Gnome breakdown is applied to all of the brands in the company’s portfolio. It helps provide the preliminary direction for each brand. It also acts as a category and segment analysis for retail partners.
“We can take Gnome into any retailer across the country or restaurant or channel account and share with them the dynamics of Gnome and match it up against their shelf sets or their product offerings or their wine lists and identify places where they have opportunities for additions or where they may be over weighted in some segments and they have the opportunity to even out the spread,” explains Pyrczak.
But Constellation Wines doesn’t stop there. It then distills Gnomes’ insights into a “brand blueprint,” which is the guiding force for everything each brand does throughout the year. It’s a culmination of a variety of different pieces of information, primarily based off the consumer insights.
“We attach values, personality and a mantra to the brand. Everything is based off of those key pieces of the puzzle,” says Pyrczak, whose team does both quantitative and qualitative consumer research based on a random selection of consumers and on loyal consumers of the brand, so they can understand what the driving factors or motivators are for each group. They search for specific consumer age ranges and geographies that they’re interested in and then tap into competitive brands that may have similar types of propositions for their brands. “In the case of Toasted Head, in addition to going into the markets and doing primary research we used Facebook, because we find that they either reinforce or share with us new insights that cause us to want to dig deeper with them.” Toasted Head’s blueprint ultimately led it to beer festivals, for example, because research showed the brand was pretty close to the craft beer market in age, in style and production methodology.”
What happens when research shows that a brand connects with multiple types of consumers, as it turns out Ravenswood does? How does that translate at an event? Pyrczak says that with Ravenswood they get a mix of Traditionalists and some Image Seekers as well as the Luxury group, because the brand has a full tier of offerings.
“We spent the majority of our time in the Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival activation focused on the Vintners Blend tier because we were re-launching it, but what happens when you build the experience around what the brand stands for itself is that it can translate to all the tiers,” explains Pyrczak. “That Sonoma experience is reminiscent of where our wines came from and started, so being able to take the core characteristics of the brand should apply to all tiers no matter what price or segment the tier falls into.” EM