“Brands like Barefoot, Ménage à Trois, Cupcake and Apothic have a really clear, concise brand idea conveyed on the label," says Curtis Mann of SymphonyIRI .
Supervalu Chills Out
Supervalu has been so impressed with these brands performance that it’s modeled private labels after the Barefoot and Cupcake lines.
Last year, it introduced Chill Out — its answer to Barefoot — to select independents and its Albertsons, Jewel-Osco, Acme, Cub Foods, Shaw’s, Save-A-Lot, Shoppers, Shop ‘n Save, Farm Fresh, Hornbacher’s and Lucky’s banners. Featuring the same varietals as Barefoot — including pinot grigio and moscato — it retails for $5.99 vs. the national brand, which runs about $8.99, according to Miller.
“It’s got a fun feel and a great name right off the bat,” he said of the brand with the beach-themed label. “The price point is very approachable for consumers who are just getting into wine.”
To ensure that the brand would resonate with younger shoppers, test labels were put through a panel study comprising Millennials. “We wanted to see what they liked — the colors, the fonts, the names,” noted Miller. “So far it’s paid off really well.”
Indeed, Chill Out was deemed the No. 1 private-brand launch across Supervalu’s beer, wine and spirits business.
“Our shoppers really love this product and sales are tracking meaningfully ahead of expectations,” said Craig Herkert, Supervalu’s president and chief executive officer, during its first-quarter earnings call. “We estimated that this new line has added an incremental 40% to our sales within the category.”
Supervalu’s Flame Lily, which is modeled after the Cupcake Vineyards brand to appeal to female consumers, is also selling well. “Fifty percent of wine shoppers out there are female and our largest consumer base is female, so Flame Lily is right on point with our female shoppers today,” Miller said.
With its main audience in mind, Supervalu gave Chill Out and Flame Lily wines screw caps to support ease of use and environmental sustainability. The twist-off caps also keep the product fresher longer, thus supporting everyday drinking occasions.
While Miller was hard pressed to find a twist-off cap on wine 20 or so years ago, the closures represent the direction in which much of the industry is headed; today he sees a 50/50 split between cork-finished wine and twist-off caps.
“Millennials are thinking, ‘I don’t have to get out the cork screw and go through all the hassle I saw my parents go through with busting corks. Now I grab the stealth closure, twist it and it comes off. If I choose not to finish it I can seal it back up for the next day,’” Miller said.
Wines aren’t just easier to open, but easier to enjoy as many boast a sweeter, less tannic profile than in the past. The American palate, and especially that of younger consumers who grew up drinking soda and energy drinks, is accustomed to sweeter tastes, according to Mann.
“If you look at trends vs. Australia and the U.K. and other places where they haven’t been drinking as much soda or eating as many sweets, they tend to have a very dry palate. They’re striving for things like dry riesling and dry champagne, but here in the U.S. we like things to have a 1% residual sugar in them or a 1.5% residual sugar,” he said.
This is a change from the dry wines that retailers highlighted 10 or so years ago. While they made for a suitable accompaniment to complementary foods, they weren’t always easy to drink on their own. With sweeter wines there isn’t as much fuss.
“Now when a consumer goes home and tries a product, they’re trying something that doesn’t bite on the palate. It’s easy to enjoy before, during or after a meal,” said Mann.