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Interview, Part 2: Treasury’s Sandra LeDrew On Beringer’s Progress

December 17, 2015

In the second part of SND’s interview with Sandra LeDrew, Treasury Wine Estates’ president-Americas focuses on the Beringer franchise and its current plans for growth.

SND: Beringer clearly will be the major component in any sustained recovery for TWE. What have you been doing to revitalize the brand?

LeDrew: The total Beringer brand is at about 6.5 million cases in the U.S., with over 170,000 cases of that in Luxury ($20+). In fiscal 2014, we began shifting emphasis toward Luxury with our Local Knowledge campaign, which touts our regional estates and focuses on what we call “Sticky Knowledge”—very local knowledge about Paso Robles, Knight’s Valley and elsewhere. In fiscal 2015, we made a heavy A&P investment—something we hadn’t been doing at all—and partnered with JWT across the portfolio. Beringer needed clear positioning and communication instead of being defined by price points and promotions. With JWT, the creative took a historical path, looking at the Beringer brothers and the spirit of American optimism. We devised a campaign called “Better Beckons,” with a message that tomorrow will be even better than today. We hired Instagram photographer Murad Osmann, who has 3.2 million followers. The campaign launched this October, with a $4 million spend and the goal of gaining over 150 million impressions, not including social media. There’s a print component as well as a huge social media effort, including a major Instagram presence.

SND: What initiatives have been undertaken with Private Reserve, at the top of the Beringer line?

LeDrew: Private Reserve is healthier than it’s ever been. We’ve taken price (on the Cabernet) every year for the last four years, rising from $110 to more than $165 today. We feel we can compete head-on with Opus One, and every vintage sells out. With Private Reserve Cabernet and Chardonnay at the top of our architecture, we’ve also introduced a tier called the Distinction Series ($35-$60), which highlights unique vineyard sites and blends. Distinction launched with Quantum ($60), a Napa Valley blend, and Luminus ($45), an Oak Knoll Chardonnay. On Knights Valley Reserve ($35), we renovated the package several years ago with a black label, and were the first to do that. We’ve also launched a Paso Robles red blend called The Waymaker ($40).

SND: What about Beringer Founders’ Estate?

LeDrew: Founders’ Estate has probably been among the portfolio’s more struggling labels. It was being discounted far too much and had begun to lose its way. So we renovated it for a July 1 launch, with a new package that speaks about quality and is a bit more hip. We also upgraded the quality, particularly on the Cabernet, and moved it up a dollar on the shelf. We’ve tied in with Chopped, a reality show about grilling and the Food Network’s top program. It’s a two-year sponsorship, and next season’s episodes are all filmed at Beringer. The in-store promotional campaign is all around grilling with Founders’ Estate.

SND: Further down is Beringer Classics, which has had its challenges over the years.

LeDrew: Beringer Classics is about 5.5 million cases in the United States. It was up 3% at mid-year, so it’s back in growth mode. We’ve also got new flavors including Beringer Red Crush, a red blend launched this past year. And we have our Taste Strips, one of the more innovative in-store promotions, whereby shoppers can pull out wine flavor strips from a container on the shelf and taste Chardonnay, Cabernet or White Zinfandel. We’re reshaping the portfolio to focus more above $10, but some big commercial labels will always be important. Beringer Classics is one of them.

For the full interview, see Impact’s December 1&15 issue.

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