Some thoughts on Prosecco

prosecco

Prosecco is one of the wine world’s success stories. I’m drinking one now. It’s the Bella Covina Prosecco from Tesco, which is as cheap as Prosecco gets at £5.85.

Is it bad? No.

Is it good quality? Well, quality is judged by fitness for purpose, and for most people drinking Prosecco, including the company I’m with, it is fit for purpose. It’s fruity, has bubbles, and it’s quite tasty. I don’t have anything to say about it, really.

It isn’t complex or memorable, but it doesn’t need to be. If I try to assess this the way I would a fine wine, then I’m missing the point.

Prosecco has got the brand proposition right. It sells well, it is in demand, it is consistent, and everyone seems to like it.

What Prosecco has to avoid is confusing this wonderfully clear brand proposition by trying to be what most people don’t think Prosecco is: a fine wine. The idea of making single-vineyard Prosecco, or icon Prosecco, or Prosecco that comes from top quality, low yielding vineyards with interesting soils is quite bonkers. BY all means aspire to make interesting, characterful wine with a sense of place, but then you are making it for a different segment of the market, and to call it Prosecco would be confusing things.

One argument for a high-end Prosecco is that it could have a star-dust effect, changing peoples’ image of Prosecco and raising the price of all Prosecco as it becomes aspirational. But this would also be problematic. Prosecco works at the price point it inhabits: it is affordable enough that people can drink it every day, but it’s expensive enough that producers make some money out of it. It is sustainable. Make it more expensive, and you have to find a new consumer segment. That’s tricky.

The challenge for Prosecco is the same for all wines in this segment. Don’t get caught up in the race to the bottom. Supermarkets are driving prices ever lower and then producers have to cut corners and the product quality is hit. Then brands become devalued and everyone loses.

2 comments to Some thoughts on Prosecco

  • Patrick Comiskey

    Yup.

  • Jamie, I tend to agree with you and it’s a very interesting problem that you have highlighted with these “super regions”, eg Prosecco / Cava / Rioja / Bordeaux. How do you sell both high, mid and low without confusing customers or damaging brand equity? Obviously in Bordeaux’s case there is generic Bordeaux, then probably better regions like Saint-Émilion right up to Premier Grand Cru Classé A etc. etc. I guess it works fairly well because rich clients are prepared to pay top dollar for what they perceive as quality, whereas at the lower price points you still get caché with your friends, because Bordeaux sounds posh / quality.

    Rioja is making tentative steps, as is Cava, which as you know has recently launched a more premium single-vineyard category.

    In a way it’s a good problem to have as these regions already have more clout than say Languedoc-Roussillon but how they take things forwards is going to be fascinating to watch.

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