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Exclusive: Franzia Dives Into “Better For You” Wine Segment

June 17, 2021

The largest-selling wine brand in the U.S. in volume terms, Franzia saw an impressive 7.6% increase in 2020 to 24 million 9-liter cases, according to Impact Databank, led by gains from its Rich & Buttery Chardonnay and Dark Red expressions, as well as from its Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir labels. Now, The Wine Group is extending Franzia into the rising “better for you” segment with a range of Refreshers, selling in 3-liter boxes retailing at around $15. SND executive editor Daniel Marsteller recently spoke with Jeff Dubiel, CMO at The Wine Group, to discuss the launch and the overall outlook for Franzia.

SND: What’s the proposition behind the new Franzia Refreshers?

Dubiel: We’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about innovation and how to bring new consumers into the category. Franzia Refreshers are launching July 1. They’re based on a simple idea of combining three major trends in the wine industry: wellness, flavor, and the growth of the 3-liter box category, which is up by about 50% right now. This is our first foray into a national 3-liter business, so we’re excited for that opportunity. As we thought about expanding retail sets, growing packaging formats and the right package for a sub-45 age demographic, 3-liter seemed to be the right solution at least to start. We could also consider other packaging formats moving forward.

SND: What wines will the Refreshers portfolio initially include?

Dubiel: We’re launching with Peach Moscato, Tropical Pinot Grigio, Strawberry Rose, and Wildberry Moscato. They’re crisp, slightly sweet and blended with all natural fruit flavors. From a wellness standpoint, they’re 75 calories per glass, vegan and gluten free. They’re also at a lower abv of 6.5%, which is what our consumers are looking for these days. You’ve got other flavored wines out there that play at around 120 to 140 calories, so coming in at 75 calories gives us an advantage. Also, the Refreshers are at about half the sugar of what other quote unquote flavored wines are delivering in the marketplace.

SND: What are you seeing overall on the Franzia brand currently?

Dubiel: It’s been a very good couple of years for Franzia. We saw a lot of new consumers coming into the franchise in 2020, an increase of about 300,000 new users, which is very helpful. We relaunched Franzia a couple of years ago to position it as exactly what it is: reliable, convenient wine that creates good times with lifetime friends, and we backed it with a Make Friends For Life campaign to drive that point home.

SND: Which offerings in the portfolio are consumers gravitating toward?

Dubiel: Our Bold Blends, including Bold & Jammy Cabernet and Rich & Buttery Chardonnay, continue to increase by strong double-digits. We’ve also made a concerted effort with Tetra Paks, going into smaller sizes and offering availability from a convenience standpoint, which has been super successful, and continues our strategy of offering packages that create value across different channels. And we’ve tied everything up with new brand merchandise for those who want to wear Franzia gear, and gone deep with Homes for Heroes, a charity program tie-in with the Fisher House Foundation, which has also been very successful.

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