How Notorious Pink Competes in a Sea of Rose

Dear Client:  

Rose is clearly a trend that’s here to stay. It has moved on from being a seasonal product to year-round popularity. In fact, in the 13 weeks through April 20 rose blends were up 27.2% in sales and up nearly 30% in volume in all Nielsen-measured channels. Of course, that makes it a very attractive category.  

Notorious Pink Rose was one of the first to hop on the rose bandwagon in 2014 when the category really started to transition to a year-round product. Your editor recently sat down with Notorious Pink Rose president and ceo Paul Governale to discuss how it started, the crowded category and where the brand is headed.

A CLEAR WINNER. After working on Wall Street for years and then helping other companies build brands, Paul decided to strike out on his own in the bev alc industry.

“I assembled a team that included beverage industry and finance industry” folks “and we put a portfolio together of wine and spirits so we could actually invest in the group of them, get the group of them into different markets, into different accounts and figure out which brands were going to be the ones that we would really put the major resources behind.”

The group started out with a whiskey, a Scotch, a vodka, a Cognac and Notorious Pink. But “we always said the one that would become the most successful would get the most attention,” says Paul.

“The philosophy was let’s not chase labels with a lot of money that we don’t think are going to be successful. So, we decided to shelf them. We took them off the market,” he explains, adding, “Once we figured out this brand [Notorious Pink] was the lead dog, we put it in about four or five markets, started putting resources behind it.”

THE SPECS. Notorious Pink is an imported rose made from 100% grenache grapes at an estate in the south of France, called Domaine la Colombette. It retails for about $19 a 750 ml. The first vintage hit store shelves in 2014.

“Within the first year, we took the brand to 16 markets, and we doubled the amount of sales, from first year to second year. And then we started expanding out through multiple chains – retail chains, big box stores, hospitality groups.” It’s now available for distribution nationwide and is in 42 states.

GETTING DISTRIBUTION & MARKETING RIGHT. “I knew from working with a lot of small brands that I saw outspend their distribution in the beginning – spending hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars on advertising and marketing before you could even find the product in liquor stores or restaurants within a 30, 40, 50 mile radius. It’s the death of a brand.”

“But we did it systematically. We never wanted to overspend without distribution, now that we are in 40 states, we’ve done a lot of regional campaigns,” he says. “National campaigns are still kind of a big brand luxury, we don’t think we’re ready for.”

Demos are key to their marketing strategy. “Wherever we could demo the product–as they call it ‘sips to lips’–we would want people to try the brand, touch the bottle – it has a glass cork, very unique.”

As for the distribution network, they’re mostly with Breakthru Beverage Group, Republic National Distributing Co. and a few other, smaller distributors in states those two don’t service.

WHERE’S IT SELLING WELL? The top markets for Notorious Pink are New York, Florida, Massachusetts and Nevada. California is a tougher market for imports, but “we’re there, we’re relevant,” says Paul.

He expects Florida will take the No.1 spot soon. “We had a small distributor there, just up until recently,” says Paul, but now Breakthru Beverage Group handles distribution in the Sunshine State. “Now that we have changed to a major distributor, we’re starting to see some really good traction, and we think that’s going to be actually one of, if not our biggest market, in the next year or two.”

Overall, Paul says their reorder rates are around 70%.

GOING BEYOND ROSE. After the success of Notorious Pink, the company decided to branch out from rose and added a red and white wine to the line earlier this year, Scandalous One Red and Infamous Gold White.

“All the brands will come from the same vineyard, in a very similar package, but not identical. And they’ll have a very similar kind of trendy, brandy, catchy name – not the same name, but they’ll all be related in some way,” Paul explains.

A SEA OF PINK. When Notorious Pink entered the market, “there were probably between 500 and 600 roses that were actively in the marketplace,” says Paul. Now, it’s “probably more like 1500-1600 labels.” But “a lot of them haven’t stuck.”

“I just think that overall the category is still hot, I think there’s going to be some obvious mainstays in the category,” he says. “I think we’ve made it to that point, and now it’s just a matter of how we position the brand, and the right accounts, and the right markets and continue to grow out new accounts and new customers.”

LIDL TESTS ON-DEMAND GROCERY DELIVERY

German discount grocer Lidl is testing the waters for online grocery delivery. Lidl has partnered with Boxed, a club-styled online retailer, to offer grocery delivery to consumers in as little as three hours, per Chain Store Age.

Boxed will lend Lidl its proprietary ordering technology and on-demand delivery service, Boxed Express. Consumers can shop Lidl’s product assortment online, but it’s unclear whether bev alc is available for delivery as well.   

Starting next month, Lidl will kick off a six-month pilot program in Staten Island, NY and Powder Springs, Georgia.

Lidl joins the ranks of Wal-mart, Kroger, Target and other major grocers/retailers in the online grocery delivery space.

WSD BRIEFS:

SMOKING LOON CELEBRATES 20 YEARS WITH TWO NEW WINES. Don Sebastiani & Sons is celebrating 20 years of Smoking Loon with the launch of a commemorative labeled bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon as well as a new California Rose. The 2017 Smoking Loon Cabernet Sauvignon is a nod to their first vintage in 1999 with a bright orange and yellow label with the smoking loon on the front. In addition, the 2018 Smoking Loon Steelbird Rose label is incorporated with thermal ink that changes color when the bottle is chilled at 50 degrees and the feathers on the front label change from light pink to a dark hue. The rose is available at a suggested retail price of $7.

TENZING WINE & SPIRITS NAMED EXCLUSIVE DISTRIBUTION PARTNERS WITH MARCHESI ANTINORI PORTFOLIO. Tenzing Wine & Spirits has partnered with Marchesi Antinori. They will serve as the exclusive Illinois distributor of the Antinori family of wines, expanding the company’s on-premise, chain and independent retail footprint, per a release.

Until Monday,
Sarah

“Everything is funny, as long as it’s happening to somebody else.” – Will Rogers

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