Sometimes the best ideas are the simplest ones. Such is the case with the ‘90+ Club’, launched recently by Treasury Wine Estates. Often in this column, I have bemoaned wine’s comparatively low profile in this channel and the lack of tender loving care it receives in-store. The hangover mentality of yesteryear that it is a low-margin product and therefore not worthy of prime focus or space is changing, fortunately. But not fast enough nor often enough. The category is still not where it could and should be in this channel.
Done well, wine can be a key category for gifting or self-purchase, and a destination merchandise offering in the case of a wine-producing region or country. Provided the focus is on upscale wines, price is not the shackle that it is for spirits and it’s an ideal opportunity for a retailer to differentiate themselves from competitors. Take a look at Aelia Duty Free’s brilliant store at Nice Côte d’Azur Airport, Gebr Heinemann at Hamburg Airport, Nuance (Dufry) at Sydney Airport and you’ll see what I mean.
But how to convince an often confused and sometimes ignorant (in the best sense of the word) consumer of the merits of an airport wine offer? Treasury started with that consumer-driven challenge and worked backwards to its new 90+ Club concept. To be included in the selection, only wines that have been rated 90-points or higher by globally recognised wine critics and publications are allowed in. As I write, the 90+ Club is being launched into travel retail stores at airports across the USA and Asia.
I’m prepared to wager that this is going to be a big winner. Not only for Treasury but for the retailers concerned as the concept will drive up average transaction value and improve awareness of fine wine – surely the sub-category where the brightest future lies in travel retail.
At this month’s Tax Free Asia Pacific show in Singapore, I had the chance (along with several travel retailers) to taste the range. Treasury Wine Estates newly appointed General Manager for Global Travel Retail Barry Galloway welcomed guests to Cut by Wolfgang Puck at Marina Bay Sands, where we tasted our way through highlights of the collection over a superb dinner.
The menu told us we were in for something special and the reality didn’t disappoint. In terms of sheer majesty (let alone fame) of wine, it’s hard to top the extraordinarily rich 2012 Penfolds Grange Shiraz, an outstanding wine that will become even better in years and even decades to come. But not one of the wines failed to live up to its peer group and in wines such as the 2012 Sterling Platinum Label Cabernet Sauvignon and 2012 Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, one simply knew one was tasting greatness. I have probably written that wine deserves a higher profile in travel retail more times than I have supped on a glass of chilled Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. With wines such as the 90+ Club on offer, the category will surely will get it.