It’s a significant time for Thomson & Scott. We’re taking our champagne, Prosecco and (top secret!) new launch right into stars and stripes territory. Key to our US expansion is working with experts who know the wine market inside out. Public relations, marketing and wine expert Devin Parr is witty, insightful and passionate, and she brings incredible vision in her role as Thomson & Scott’s new US Brand Ambassador.
We caught up with Devin to get her scoop on the US wine market. It’s a must-read for anyone interested in sustainability, ethical marketing and – most significantly – exactly what is in the bottles of wine they drink.
Q Devin, what do you think are the main differences between the UK and US wine markets?
Without having a hugely extensive knowledge of the UK wine market – and I definitely don’t want to make any assumptions! – my sense is Americans seem to be less risk-averse and perhaps more willing to be experimental. Our advertising reflects these tendencies as campaigns are typically rolled out to American consumers first before making it to the UK. Interestingly, we will be doing the opposite with Thomson & Scott! Also, given the relative overall size of the US, as well as the fact that we are a collection of different States, marketing to the US consumer takes on a whole new dynamic as there are so many different populations and demographics within the country.
Q What was your initial reaction to the Thomson & Scott brand?
Oh wow – it was love at first sight! And then full-on marriage-and-kids at first sip. I met Amanda in late 2016 at the Wine Vision conference in Sonoma and we just hit it off. Whether it was our shared entrepreneurial mindset, our love of bubbles, or our enthusiasm for a good belly laugh, we became fast friends. When Amanda filled me in on her broader mission to increase transparency in wine and wine labeling, I knew it was a mission I could and should get behind. Beyond that, the product is truly delicious. I am a die-hard fan of zero and low-dosage sparkling wines, so Thomson & Scott Prosecco and Champagne are a no-brainer for me. Plus the branding – including both the packaging and digital media presence – is smart, contemporary, socially conscious and just a little bit cheeky… which I just love.
Q You’re helping Thomson & Scott launch in Texas in May and California in the summer. Which other US regions will you focus on in the future?
We are zeroing in on Texas, California, New York and Florida as our key launch markets, with some secondary markets like Tennessee, Colorado, North Carolina and Georgia on the horizon. But the sky is really the limit. Understanding the growing importance of the direct-to-consumer model, we are also working hard to establish a great digital storefront so that consumers can easily purchase the product online.
Q Further afield what’s your take on the international wine market?
With so many digital channels out there to inform our decisions and behavior – whether that’s researching the wines we are buying, to exploring new products, to interacting with our favorite wine brands through social media – the world has actually gotten much, much smaller. Happily, consumers have gotten more adventurous as a result, and are more willing to try new things and experiment with wine regions, grapes and blends than ever before. With the click of a button, we can be in the Prosecco region, learning about what grapes go into our favorite bubbly, and hearing the story about how it is produced. This allows us to develop deeper relationships with the brands we love… without ever having to get on an airplane.
Q Transparency in wine: how much do you think consumers want to know?
As with our food and packaged goods, I think we want to know as much as possible. Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to what we are putting in our bodies. At the end of the day, it’s not necessarily about pulling the curtain back on wine, it’s about allowing consumers to make the most informed choices. Brands and products not only need to make sense in terms of budget, but they should now also make sense in terms of fitting in with our broader lifestyle and value system. Thomson & Scott believes in putting information at the fingertips of the consumer. Whether it’s important for someone to drink a low- or no-sugar sparkling wine as part of a commitment to wellness, or to consume beverages that are organic or contain zero animal products, or to know that their wine comes in eco-friendly packaging, we want consumers to be able to make a choice.
Q And if you just like the taste?!
If anyone opts for a bottle of Thomson & Scott Prosecco because it tastes fantastic and has a gorgeous label, that’s okay too… Wine is ultimately a product of pleasure, so it’s important not to forget that. When it comes to wine, I would argue you can (and should!) have it all.