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Black Box Looks To Maintain Double-Digit Growth While Bota Box, Other Challengers Rise

May 15, 2012

Premium boxed wine pioneer Black Box crossed 2 million cases in U.S. depletions last year, even as competition in the small but fast-growing boxed wine segment intensified. This year, Constellation-owned Black Box expects to maintain double-digit growth through new line extensions and packaging innovations.

The three-liter boxed wine segment that Black Box leads accounts for only 2% of the U.S. table wine sector, according to SymphonyIRI. But it’s one of the fastest growing areas of the market, up 27% in dollar sales and volume in the 52 weeks through mid-March. Black Box’s 11% increase to 2.1 million cases last year earned it an Impact “Hot Brand” award. But top competitor Bota Box—marketed by DFV Wines and also a “Hot Brand”—outpaced it, leaping 71% to 1.6 million cases. Three-liter boxed entries from The Wine Group’s Big House, Corbett Canyon and FishEye and Don Sebastiani & Sons’ Pepperwood Grove have also been rising quickly.

New product activity has abounded across the segment of late. Black Box recently unveiled a Moscato (from Mendoza, Argentina) and Sweet Red Blend (from California), aiming to capitalize on the two hottest wine styles in the market. Those entries join a Black Box portfolio whose top sellers are Cabernet Sauvignon (34% share of the brand’s sales) and Chardonnay (21% share). The fastest growing Black Box labels have been Malbec (up 67% in IRI channels in the year through mid-March) and Sauvignon Blanc (up 52%).

Black Box has commanded the highest prices in its segment since launching in 2002, says the brand’s marketing director Kim Moore, averaging $20.36 a three-liter box in 2011 compared to a category average of $18.40.

Late last year, Black Box debuted 500-ml. Tetra Paks ($4.99 each) of its Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, with a Pinot Grigio rolling out later this year. Bota Box has also released similarly priced 500-ml. Tetra Paks over the past year, as well as Malbec and red blend line extensions.

Boxed wines’ longevity after opening—they stay fresh up to four weeks—can offer cost efficiencies for bars and restaurants. But the on-premise remains a tiny portion of the mix for both Black Box and Bota Box, which currently does only around 4% of its business in the channel, according to John Garaventa, DFV Wines senior vice president, value brands. Garaventa and Black Box’s Moore both see on-premise opportunities for the future. “We expect to see upward trending in demand for boxed wines on-premise,” Moore says.


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