“Building a portfolio of brands that stick”

 

Seth Hillstrom:

It’s enough work trying to manage the marketing efforts of one brand – but what do you do when it’s your job to oversee an entire portfolio? How do you spread across many brands but still give each the time and attention they need to excel?

We’re very lucky to be here with someone who’s hard at work doing just that: Travis Arnesen, Vice President of Marketing for Guarachi Wine Partners Inc. Travis, thanks so much for being with us today!

Travis Arnesen:

Hi Seth. Happy to be here, thanks for having me.

Seth:

Travis, for those who may not know a lot about Guarachi Wine Partners (even though most of us have probably had one of your wines) can you tell us a little about the vision for the company and portfolio of brands?

Travis:

Our company was founded in 1985 by Alex Guarachi, who recognized that Chilean wines – the incredible wines from his homeland – were not well represented in the United States. He built our company from his garage into what we are today (literally from 1 man, 1 brand into 50+ people and 16+ brands with National distribution).

We are still known for our expertise in South American wines (mainly Chile & Argentina) and our future vision is to expand/diversify into other countries of origin & develop our own domestic products, which we’ve already begun.

New product innovation has been a key focus for us over the past few years and will continue driving our portfolio strategy into the future. One of the hallmarks of our portfolio has been to deliver incredible value to consumers at all price points – from entry level to luxury offerings, by delivering high quality at a good price through a range of brands and varieties.

Seth:

With 16 brands and around 100 sku’s, you’re working with a lot of different wines, brands, and positions. Is it necessary to take a unique approach for each brand (with a unique drinker in mind) when you’re planning? What are your top priorities in leading marketing for such a diverse portfolio?

Travis:

As a company we strive to have a diverse portfolio with compelling offerings to a wide array of customers and consumers. Focus is a necessity and brand positioning is extremely important.

From a brand perspective, each brand must stand apart and offer its own unique selling proposition consistent with its position, not just within our own portfolio, but within the overall market.

It’s incredibly important to identify each brands’ target audience and construct a clear strategy. The industry is more competitive than ever before so authenticity and efficiency are key.

Seth:

I can see some of your brands shed convention in favor of the contemporary…such as Black Ink, and Bacon. Let’s start with Black Ink. It’s edgy, it’s artistic, and it’s bold… in fact it’s a little badass. And it seems like the brand goes beyond paying homage to tattoos to actually offering some artist discovery on your website. Who are you targeting with this brand, what watering hole are you meeting them at (which channels are most viable to connect with this group), and how well is it resonating? Aesthetically, it looks right on the mark to me (http://www.blackinkwine.com), and one could imagine that this is a fun group to connect with.

Travis:

Black Ink was a bit of a game changer for our organization. When we released Black Ink in 2014, it was our first true innovation product launch. When it was released it was the first time our portfolio offered our own domestic product in the super-premium price category. It opened the door for GWP to offer products beyond just imports (3 out of every 4 bottles of wine consumed in the US are domestic), and even helped us gain placements of our imported products by opening up new doors.

In terms of the product itself – research shows that tattoos are becoming more common among the US population. Black Ink targets mainly millennials who shed conventional consumption habits of older generations. We consider Black Ink to be a wine that is comfortable at a whiskey bar.

We’ve found quite a few ancillary consumer segments that the brand resonates with as well. The brand may be found in many mainstream grocery stores – while the edgy packaging and branding communicates the brand personality – the concept and quality has mass market appeal.

Seth:

Are you doing or can we expect to see any tattoo-based promotions? (So basically, how much wine can fans win by tattooing the brand on their bodies? kidding…sort of)

Travis:

Last year we partnered with a renowned tattoo artist Amy Nicoletto from the hit show LA Ink to design a line extension for us: Black Ink Rose’. Also, we currently have a Black Ink campaign running in Tattoo magazine for the remainder of 2018. So tattoo culture and promotions are a critical element to the brand and I think you’ll see more of those to come.

Seth:

Let’s move on to Bacon. This is newer …but everyone loves Bacon and it goes great with everything (which is just what you like hearing about your wine). Beyond the excitement evoked by glorious breakfast meats, who and what is this brand all about? And how has the feedback been since releasing earlier this year?

Travis:

There’s been a recent theme of food-based wines entering the market… and many have been wildly successful. You said it yourself, who doesn’t like BACON? And we’ve invested in putting the quality in the bottle to back up the concept. High-end Syrah, which is the backbone for our BACON blend, is known for having a rich, smoky, flabby, umami flavor – very much like cooked bacon.

We decided to go BIG and BOLD with the roll out of BACON, not just with quality wine but also with packaging, investing in actual wood grain labels to impart a country-chic, farm to table feel. The logo is a B, or when rotated a pig’s nose, to communicate the fun, playfulness of the brand. It’s been really well received and is already generating buzz even though we’ve only launched in a few select markets… we are planning for a national roll out by the end of this year and into early 2019.

Seth:

Travis, you’ve been marketing wines (quite successfully, I might add!) for some time now. With that in mind, I’d like to ask you please rack your brain and share with us what you feel are the three biggest trends, forces, or opportunities that will impact how you connect with your consumers, tell your stories, and get liquid to lips over the next 5 years.

Travis:

Biggest trend – wine in a can. See Surf/Swim Chardonnay from Guarachi.

Biggest force – consolidation of the supply chain, distributors and retailers.

Biggest opportunity – new generation of wine drinkers and technology that allows suppliers to communicate and interact directly with end consumers. The next generation of wine drinkers are more educated, diverse, and technologically savvy than ever before – so it requires constant interaction and authenticity to grow and maintain a following.

Seth:

Very exciting! Travis, thank you so much for sharing your story with us today! And for everyone else, please don’t hesitate to chime in with any questions or comments!

Travis:

Thanks Seth. It’s been a pleasure.

 

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