Can Medals & Award Stickers influence consumers when buying wine?

Rojita Tewari responds with an unqualified ‘Yes!’

In recent years, the wine market in India has experienced significant growth and transformation. The modern retail format has expanded it further by offering endless options, which are sometimes intimidating for the new wine drinker in India. Can selecting a wine be made easier by talking more about it if the wines have medals and award stickers? Let’s look at this closely. Inside a retail shop, a wine buyer is looking for a good value-for-money wine but is unable to make a choice owing to the sheer number of options available. The shopkeeper offers a wine with a medal on the bottle, and one without it. Which one will the buyer choose and why?

Grover’s sparkling wine and Fratelli’s J’Noon range regularly win awards at prestigious international competitions

To know more, the wine and spirits consulting firm, Drinks & Destinations, conducted a poll on social media and found that 67% of the voters said that the influencing factor in their purchasing decision was the presence of medals from wine contests and award stickers on bottles of wine.

On the other side of the spectrum are the wine producers who enter these wines in competitions. Chaitanya Rathi of Sula Vineyards believes that receiving recognition through prestigious international platforms is gratifying. “These awards motivate us further and strengthen our commitment to producing top-quality wines that showcase the unique terroir of Nashik to wine drinkers in India and abroad,” he says. “Our goal at Sula is to proudly place India on the global wine map and support the development of the wine industry within the country.

“The Chenin Blanc Reserve from Sula’s flagship brand, The Source, secured India’s first ever Silver at the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles (CMB) competition held in Croatia in May this year. Among the 7,500 wines tasted from across 50 countries, our wine stood out for its craftsmanship and quality!’’

Quentin Havaux, CEO of Vinopres the company that organises the CMB competition, is optimistic about the future of Indian wines. “Indian wines certainly need recognition. Although they have great potential, they are yet to make a mark in the international market. An award or medal from the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles reaffirms not just their quality but also offers a wider acceptance of these wines. In addition, it is an assurance to Indian wine lovers that they are choosing the best quality label from an internationally recognised competition.”

Indian wine producers have been participating in a number of other wine competitions and winning medals such as Decanter World Wine Awards, International Wine Challenge, International Wine & Spirits Competition and Mumbai-based India Wine Awards. But are Indian consumers paying attention to medals and stickers on the wine bottles?

The Source Chenin Blanc Reserve
from Sula: India’s first wine to win
a Silver medal at Concours Mondial
de Bruxelles

Rathi believes so. “Medals and recognition do catch the eye of the consumer. But it is crucial to educate them about the significance of these wins and get them to try the wines,” he says. “I believe medals add value to the label and help influence purchase decisions on the shelves. Additionally, they provide the brand with a compelling talking point on digital platforms, enabling conversations with the audience.”

The other two wineries from India which have been winning numerous awards at prestigious competitions are Grover Zampa Vineyards and Fratelli Wines. Grover Zampa is one of the pioneers entering wines in different international competitions every year. “We believe in actively participating in international wine competitions of repute,” says Sumit Jaiswal, VP Marketing, Grover Zampa Vineyards. “Since 2013, we have participated in all major wine competitions across Japan, Hong Kong, China, the United Kingdom and United States, winning 205 awards. At the recently concluded Sakura – Japan Women’s Wine Awards 2023, the company bagged a number of gold medals for the Vijay Amritraj Reserve Collection Red 2019, Zampa Soirée Brut 2019, Zampa Soirée Brut Rosé 2019 and Shiraz Rosé 2022.”

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According to Jaiswal, the practice of talking about the medals and awards in their communications has proved to be highly beneficial for their brands. “The consumers who are passionate about wine do pay attention to the quality quotient vouched for by the award on the bottle. Our international exports have demonstrated a significant impact as evidenced by increased sales and the successful entry of our wines in top restaurants and retail chains in different countries.”

Jayanth Bharathi, Deputy GM Marketing at Fratelli Wines concurs. “These awards play a huge role in helping a consumer decide which wine to buy as the wine’s international quality and status are validated by the award.” Fratelli Wines is known for producing some top quality wines from the Indian terroir such as Sette and the Junoon collection, which have won gold medals at the Paris Wine Cup and Double Gold at the Gilbert Gaillard International Challenge, respectively.

Sette, a much awarded and
popular red wine from Fratelli
Grover Zampa Vijay Amritraj Reserve Collection red

“Many Indian consumers pay attention to Parker points, international medals, and stickers on wine bottles,” adds Bharathi. “The country is aware of major competitions like Decanter and IWSC etc, but not always the less talked about awards.” He states further that at Fratelli international wine awards are viewed as an important way to validate quality, boost reputation, and open global markets by setting benchmarks for wine excellence. Sonal Holland, MW, founder of India Wine Awards (IWA) has been closely observing trends in the domestic wine market. She states that novice wine consumers constantly seek quality assurance and pick up any information that endorses a particular wine. And this, in turn, gives them confidence while buying wines. The same goes for the hotels, bars and restaurants who pay careful attention to the importers when they speak about the medal-winning wines in their portfolio.

“Communication is the key,” adds Holland. “Traditional channels of marketing are proving effective, but what is needed is to utilise online platforms and digital media to publicise the winning wines. The objective of IWA is to build confidence among Indian wine consumers by helping them make their choices while offering wine brands an enviable advantage in the market.”

And that’s precisely what these medals and award stickers are for. The visual impact of award stickers on wine bottles capture the attention of potential buyers, making them more likely to consider that particular wine over others on the shelf. Additionally, if retailers and restaurateurs highlight award-winning wines in their promotional efforts, this can further exert influence on consumers to explore wines that have earned recognition.