Accolade Wines Sandy MayoBusiness

The innovations driving growth at Accolade Wines

It’s been a year of transformation and innovation for Accolade Wines as it’s adapted to the challenges of COVID-19, welcomed a new CEO and expanded its focus on sustainability and premium wine offerings.

Accolade Wines CMO Sandy Mayo (above) talks to Drinks Digest about the trends and triumphs of 2020, plus what’s ahead for the company in 2021.

How has Accolade adapted its marketing during 2020?

During 2020 we saw consumers shift to trusted and well-known brands, such as Hardys, Grant Burge and House of Arras. They also looked to more premium offerings in convenient formats such as wine on tap [cask]. The main shift in our marketing during COVID-19 lockdown was that we shifted our spend more into digital and supporting our retailers online, over in-store promotions. We’ve also found that some things we were forced to do during COVID, such as virtual global media tastings, have been more efficient and effective than the in-person tastings we would normally host. The year has certainly given the industry, and Accolade, the opportunity to be more innovative in how we market, and it has been a catalyst with some of the innovative new product developments we already had in our pipeline.

What are the biggest consumer trends you’ve seen in 2020?

We are seeing similar consumer trends in Europe and the US as Australia. Consumers are shifting to new formats – cans, wine on-tap – and are interested in lighter styles, more refreshing wines and lower alcohol wines. There is also the rise of seltzers, wine spritzers and lighter style sparkling wines.

A trend more specific to Australia that we are not currently seeing in other markets is the growth in more emerging varietals, such as Fiano, Grenache, Tempranillo and Malbec.

We have seen the rise of brands with some fun and attitude, brands that break the traditional rules of wine. Our brand Jam Shed, which is one of the fastest growing brands in the UK, just launched in Australia. It’s jammy, easy to drink and doesn’t take itself too seriously. We are seeing consumers really embrace this wine style and the brand attitude.

There is also a rising interest in Australian sparkling wine for wine drinkers all over the world. Consumers are drinking sparkling wine in new occasions and we are seeing the continued growth in all areas of our sparkling portfolio and sparkling rose and prosecco in particular. Our sparkling brands including House of Arras, Croser and Grant Burge are increasing in popularity globally, and rightly so.

How are you targeting the rise in stay-at-home consumption? 

Wine on tap is a key format for us, as we see consumers wanting to be able to drink a quality wine without having to consume a whole bottle. Being able to have a small format – 1.5 litre or 2 litre – of premium wine in the fridge or on the bench, is perfect for at on consumption. Banrock Station has a very popular selection of wines in 2 litre format. The red wines are vegan and, from next year, all of the wines will be vegan friendly.

We are also looking at smaller formats for sparkling wine, 250ml bottles and cans. Just because they might be at home doesn’t mean that consumers don’t want to enjoy a good glass of bubbles. But with only two people, a whole bottle might be too much for some. They are finding different reasons to celebrate, and as we know, bubbles always help put the fun into an occasion, no matter how big or small.

You just introduced a flat bottle innovation for Hardys and Banrock Station in the UK, will it be coming to Australia?

At Accolade, we know consumers and retailers are looking for more environmentally sustainable packaging options and brands that are actively giving back to the planet. Sustainability is a key focus for us across the business and our brands, and Banrock Station is certainly leading the way in the industry as our key environmentally conscious brand. We are certainly looking at launching the flat bottle in Australia, so watch this space!

What have been some of the most exciting sales and marketing successes for your brands in Australia in 2020? 

We have launched a lot of exciting new products, such as Jam Shed as mentioned above, and our team in the UK have brought some beautiful Jam Shed campaigns to life through Jam Jars at purchase, Win a Shed Load and most recently, mulled wine activation.

I think one of the most exciting things we have done globally is roll out new packaging across our entire Hardys’ range and launched a new campaign – Certainty in an Uncertain World. This campaign talks to the assured quality in any bottle of Hardys, based on our 165 years of winemaking and over 9000 awards. The campaign was supported by a consumer money back guarantee promotion – that’s how certain we are that consumers will love whichever bottle of Hardys they choose.

We have had a lot of activity on our Grant Burge brand, completing an exciting new vintage release campaign for our premium wines and then a Fathers’ Day promotion with the brand Status Anxiety. Grant Burge is a brand that consumers love to gift, so it fits perfectly with Fathers’ Day.

What do you think will be the biggest trends for wine in 2021?

Building on the trends I talked about above – premium wine on tap, wine in cans, wine spritzers and wine seltzers, sparkling wine in all shapes, sizes and flavours, light and chilled red wine.

What does Accolade have in the pipeline for 2021?

Lots of exciting innovations building on the trends we are seeing in the market that I mentioned above. 2020 has been a big year for Accolade. We have had new leadership team members join the Accolade family around the world, including our CEO, Robert Foye based in Melbourne; ANZ MD, Andrew Clarke; European MD, Caroline Thompson-Hill; and The Americas MD, Enrique Morgan to name a few.

We acquired the much loved Coonawarra brand, Katnook Estate, recently and appointed Natalie Cleghorn (above) to join our world-leading winemakers. We have also launched some fantastic campaigns including our Banrock Station partnership with Landcare which will see us plant over 100,000 trees a year to support our sustainability initiatives.

We are more passionate and committed than ever to contribute to the wine industry, help it move forward and increase access of quality wine to wine lovers all around the world. We’re expecting 2021 to be an even bigger year for Accolade and the wine industry!

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