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03.25.2006

Yes, But What KIND of Animal?

critter_vs_critter.jpgSometimes I think that in college statistics courses and job entry screening for folks who conduct surveys, someone must be surreptitiously reprogramming people so that they never quite end up asking the right questions. Oh sure, they gather lots of useful information, some of it actually stuff you want to know. But they never quite end up asking the really important stuff.

We all know, and have known for a long time, that critters on wine labels make for better sales. In today's news we learn that recently some folks even quantified it: wines with fuzzy animals or animal names outsold their competition two to one.

But nobody has really bothered to ask what I feel is the most important question:which animals are best?

I really want to understand the psychology behind this phenomenon. Would kittens sell better than koalas? What about mice versus ducks? Is the attraction to animal labels the same motivation that drives sales of stuffed animals (bears, seal pups, and dogs dramatically outselling frogs, insects, and snakes)? Or is the phenomenon something different -- some association between the animal and our imagination of what the wine will taste like? Kangaroos would definitely taste better to me than pigeons. Even baby pigeons.

C'mon statisticians. Give us what we really want: the penguin vs. polar bear smackdown.

Comments (10)

Erwin Dink wrote:
03.26.06 at 8:31 AM

How can you be certain you're not confusing correlation with causality? Surely there may be other factors influencing the purchase of "critter" wines. The presence of animals on the label is only one part of what is a general change in the marketing of some wines. Other factors may be just as important, if not more so, such as a more informal approach to label design, an emphasis on varietal composition and price. It may not actually be the presence of animals that boosts the popularity of these wines but simply that they have differentiated themselves from more "traditional" labels.

Having said all that, I am now remembering that the automotive industry went through a similar period of naming new cars after horses and wild cats... maybe it is simply the animals.

As for me, I have recently been to the zoo and I can't say that I think animal associations with wine are a good thing. There aren't any aminal odors I can think of that would add anything positive to the wine drinking experience.

Cindy Bearce wrote:
03.27.06 at 6:57 AM

A wine label communicates the brand’s image. And, today’s wine brands are increasingly developed to appeal to a younger generation of wine consumer. Animal images represent a more approachable, more accesssable wine. Its something today’s consumer can relate to. Images previously used on wine label—a château, or a coat of arms, for example, were something for the elite. Today’s wines are intended for everyone.

The type of animal used in the design of a wine label is not arbitrary and the association certainly isn’t meant to be taken literally. There are few if any animal odors or tastes that you would want associated with your wine.

There is most likely a concept behind the animal chosen as the brand’s identity. In some cases, it indicates the wine’s origins. For example, a kangaroo on the label would indicate to most consumers that the wine comes from Australia. Or an animal might be selected to express the personality of the wine—playful, or distinctive.

Having recently developed a wine brand targeted to today’s younger consumer, we too, have chosen to use an animal on the label. And there is a concept behind our choice – the concept of balance in wine , « Balance is the interaction and harmony of the wine's components; sweetness, acidity, tannins. When a wine's components are present in proper proportion, the wine is said to be balanced. ».

The name : « Elephant on a Tightrope », the image : an elephant, with a beret, casually poised on a tightrope enjoying a glass of wine.

Why an elephant? Elephant’s are known to have extraordinary balance coupled with a keen sense of smell.

The tightrope, because balance is essential while walking a tightrope and elephants are able to walk a tightrope.

The beret, a symbol to indicate French wines

Benito wrote:
03.27.06 at 7:53 PM

Alder,

On the subject of animal-named wines, I recently wrote about the bargain Aussie line Four Emus, which is labeled as being from Western Australia, and it says so on the website if you log in as an American. But if you log in as an Australian or a resident of the UK, it claims the wine is from South Australia. I've e-mailed the winery but have received no response.

And despite what you may think of these wines (and admittedly, many aren't that great), at least they're keeping wine shops in business, and drawing in customers who would normally be terrified by traditional wine labels. Hell, I took German for several years and Riesling labels still turn me off.

cd wrote:
03.28.06 at 12:56 PM

Cindy hit on something "developed to appeal to a younger generation of wine consumer".

I wonder if wineries will eventually get hit with a backlash for marketing to too young an audience.

Anyone remember Joe Camel??

Alder wrote:
03.28.06 at 1:34 PM

CD,

Very interesting question and definitely one that bears consideration (no pun intended) as wines get cuter and fuzzier and bigger and bigger ad dollars get put behind these brands.

Cindy wrote:
03.29.06 at 1:47 AM

Wine has just recently been discovered by the younger consumer and is beginning to replace beer. Beer brands have been appealing to the younger generation for years. Just look at beer advertising.

cd wrote:
03.31.06 at 10:17 PM

looks like the beginning of the end then.

Paula wrote:
06.17.08 at 6:36 AM

I, for one, really like the concept of "animal labels". When I was trying to decide my kitchen decor, I hit upon the idea of wines with animal labels and that is what I have atop my cabinets. They are not only gorgeous set amid grapes & vines, but quite a conversation piece. Several of my friends have 'copied' my idea, one does fruity wine labels, one does scenery, and the other does people. Whether or not it helps sell the product, it is fun, and the wines actually do taste pretty good (I am not an expert on wine. I just know what I like). And because the ones I have on display are unopened, it means I buy two - one to sample, one to display.

Paula wrote:
06.17.08 at 6:39 AM

I, for one, really like the concept of "animal labels". When I was trying to decide my kitchen decor, I hit upon the idea of wines with animal labels and that is what I have atop my cabinets. They are not only gorgeous set amid grapes & vines, but quite a conversation piece. Several of my friends have 'copied' my idea, one does fruity wine labels, one does scenery, and the other does people. Whether or not it helps sell the product, it is fun, and the wines actually do taste pretty good (I am not an expert on wine. I just know what I like). And because the ones I have on display are unopened, it means I buy two - one to sample, one to display.

Paula wrote:
06.17.08 at 6:40 AM

I, for one, really like the concept of "animal labels". When I was trying to decide my kitchen decor, I hit upon the idea of wines with animal labels and that is what I have atop my cabinets. They are not only gorgeous set amid grapes & vines, but quite a conversation piece. Several of my friends have 'copied' my idea, one does fruity wine labels, one does scenery, and the other does people. Whether or not it helps sell the product, it is fun, and the wines actually do taste good usually. And because the ones I have on display are unopened, it means I buy two - one to sample, one to display.

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