Every year, in France and around the world, a plethora of competitions – from the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles to Millésime Bio Challenge, the Mâcon fine wine competition and the International Best Wine in Box competition – award medals to wines. But what is their significance? Which distribution channels are they best suited to and why? We take a closer look at what these bottle stickers mean based on the findings of a survey.
- Consumer research
- A quality guarantee for consumers
- A reassuring purchasing cue
- A point of difference
Based on consumer research conducted in February 2022 by the Viavoice* survey institute, 59% of French consumers questioned are very receptive to medals awarded to wines at point of purchase. The survey was commissioned by the association of major wine competitions which groups together eight competitions in France**.
One key takeaway was that of the 1,000 people surveyed, 77% said they bought their wine in supermarkets. As the study points out: “It’s a classic scene that the French are only too familiar with when they buy their wine in supermarkets. With such an extensive choice on offer, which bottle should they choose? Which buying cues should they base their choice on?”
A quality guarantee for consumers
For these consumers, here more than anywhere else, medals help guide their choice. “Like a beacon in the dark, medals attract the eye and guide consumers who can be disoriented when faced with the wine department”. A medal offers a guarantee of quality among the hundreds of bottles lined up on supermarket shelves. In fact, 85% say that a medal “enhances a wine and remains a guarantee of quality”.
A reassuring purchasing cue
According to the 2022 SOWINE/Dynata barometer, 45% of consumers base their choice on the region of origin and 44% look at the price before they buy a wine. Despite this, the two criteria only reduce the vast choice of wines lining supermarket shelves. To narrow the range, 59% of people surveyed said they focused on medals, out of “principle”, even though 64% of French consumers admit they do not specifically know the difference between the types of medals. And yet, as the study reveals: “Irrespective of whether it is gold, silver or bronze, and comes from a regional or nationwide competition, a medal awarded to a wine acts as a reassuring cue for consumers at point of purchase. It reassures 76% of consumers when they buy a wine and prompts 7 in 10 people to buy the medal-winning wine”. Most of them are also willing to pay more for a medal-winning wine because “61% of people surveyed felt it was acceptable to pay more for an awarded wine”.
A point of difference
An interview with Michel Blanc, project and development director for the Châteauneuf-du-Pape producers’ federation at the 2019 Concours Mondial de Bruxelles, confirms these facts. He told me: “Competitions are strong differentiators, especially for supermarket sales and exports to the liquor monopolies. This is less true at wine merchants where advice is provided. It is also important that producers enter their wines in reliable competitions so that they can stand out and get their wines benchmarked by an international panel of judges. That’s good for consumers too”.
* The Viavoice study surveyed a representative sample of 1,000 people aged 18 and over living in mainland France. Sample representativeness was ensured by the quota method applied to the following criteria: sex, age, profession, region and urban category.
** The association of major French competitions groups together 8 competitions: Concours des Grands Vins de France in Mâcon, Concours des Vins de Provence, Concours des Vins in Orange, Concours des Vignerons Indépendants, Tastevinage, Concours des vins du Val de Loire, Concours de Bordeaux – vins d’Aquitaine, and Concours des Vins d’Alsace. Major wine competitions are an advantage for the regions themselves but also offer a guarantee of quality for consumers.