"You'll see people who on a regular basis have been drinking Kendall-Jackson at $13 and all of a sudden Blackstone is fine at $10," said Dale Stratton, vice president of strategic insights for Constellation Wines U.S., which owns Blackstone, the popular merlot brand. "Loyalty is very low in our category."
Is moving down to Blackstone from Kendall Jackson really trading down? It seems to me that wines like this are indistinguishable from each other. The real question would be why in the world would anyone pay $3 more for the Kendall Jackson in the first place? Mr. Stratton's comment, "Loyalty is very low in our category" is true for one reason: there is no real difference between California wines in this price range. Considering the fact that they know this fact, I can't imagine that the marketing directors and sales managers of these companies sleep very well at night.
A marketing plan that values conformity and fears personality creates this kind of nightmare for those that practice it. Consumers are loyal to wines with distinctive character, which is something any producer should be able to deliver when a wine is over $10 a bottle. These wines don't.
America's greatest wines are stunning examples of the winemaker's art that rival any wine in the world. Why can't we make a good $10 merlot?