Purple Palate Blog

“That’s seems really cheap/expensive.”-Halo effect on Wine, Spirits and Beer


In the world of marketing and retailing, there is a term that evokes fury and favour in many wine/spirits/beer producers and customers/retailer.

It is the Halo effect.

A quick explanation is this.

halo effect
noun: halo effect; plural noun: halo effects
  1. the tendency for an impression created in one area/product to influence opinion in another area/product.

A good use of the halo effect is in brewing, with a good brewer making a name for itself on a great beer it has produced, then getting the rest of it’s range in on the back of it.  Stone and Wood’s Pacific ale built the brand, and has allowed the brewery to grow rapidly and get it’s Pale, Jasper and Garden Ale into bars, retail and restaurants.

A bad use of the Halo effect happened to Pernod Ricard owners of Jacobs Creek, Gramps and Son, Wyndham.  St. Hugo Cabernet, was one of the most anticipated releases every year.  Branded with Orlando, it commanded a good price, delivered great quality product.  Some marketing person (see imbecile) thought to premiumise (is that a word?) the Jacobs Creek Brand (know for $10/bottle wine), by putting Jacobs Creek on the label rather than Orlando.  Sales plummeted.

On a personal anecdote, I had a customer refuse to buy it solely on the Jacobs Creek name.  I explained it was the same wine maker, same vineyards etc, but he said the name devalued the product.

Ironically St Hugo launched 3 new products into the market the same year.  Blind tasted they all stood up, but I couldn’t sell them off the name, but only on a discounted price.

They have since relabelled Gramps and Sons.

So the Halo effect is very powerful and must be remembered for any marketing push.

Brewdog made the most insanely alcoholic beer Sink the Bismarck at 41%, and established themselves as brewing mavericks.  With the Halo effect being that they were rebels punks with no concern for cultural mores and establishment.  They really are: awesome brewers, and marketing genius’ who know how to put out into the social media world the persona that people gravitate to-as well as great beer, but keeping to public perception of themselves as renegades with their packaging and beer styles.

On the other end of the spectrum, Penfold’s wines, owned by Treasury Estates, were incredibly well known for premium wines such as Bin 707, St Henri and Grange.  Stupidly entered the quaffing market with Rawson’s Retreat, and Koonunga Hill (Both brands looked exactly the same and with deals had same sale price).  Due to poor marketing and public perception, and product quality it devalued their brand with people who could afford Penfold’s Premium range, trying the Rawson’s, and not being overly impressed.  Those customers went on to re-evaluate the Penfold’s wines as a whole.  Please note Rawson’s Retreat has now had Penfold’s removed from the label, Koonunga Hill still has it though.

So in essence some producers make awesome stuff, but hurt themselves by focusing and marketing the wrong message to the public while others cleverly use public perception to their advantage by using the strength of the Halo effect to emphasis what do best.

So when making your decision on what to buy don’t rely solely on what you think you know but talk to people who should and do know.






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