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August 2004



I save the wine corks from the bottles I drink (even the plastic ones) and the collection from the last 2 years has been dominated by Yellow Tail Shiraz. I learned of it via word of mouth while at a Sopranos party in 2002. I brought my usual Italian wine, someone brought the YT Shiraz (and someone else "oooooo"'s as soon as they saw the bottle). I tried and liked it and bought a bottle the next time my local grocer was out of my preferred Italian. Almost immediately thereafter, they stopped carrying that Italian and Yellow Tail Shiraz became my wine of choice for 4 reasons: availability, price, taste, and friends' recommendations.
I had no idea they were this successful but am glad to see it.

Deirdre McGrew

I recently just purchased the Yellow Tail Shiraz and really enjoyed it that I'm now on my second bottle, in a week. I've just begun to try reds and now I'm sold! I will be looking for the Fat Bastard brand.

Sean Sheppard

This topic raises a question for me.....how do you know when it is time to advertise?
I just bought a 20 year old company that peaked on word of mouth and hit a wall about 5 years ago. So is it too late for me to advertise? Do I focus on branding with PR like the company is brand new?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
my email is sean@magiquegolf.com


what happens with the portuguese wines is the following. There are a lot of "quintas" producing wines, trying to compete with eachother. They don't invest in modern technology, therefore they can never maintain the same high quality for every harvest. Wine is like any other product you have to invest in good equipment, to keep up the good quality.

Laura Ries

Thanks for the detailed background on YT. Having a low price, a great name/logo/bottle, good reviews and huge instore displays all helped people to try, discuss and promote the brand. And success translated into wider distribution, larger displays, more sales and more profits.

Now on to discuss the problem with Portuguese or Bulgaria wine. It doen't matter what the stuff tastes like, wine from either country is going to have little hope for success.

A brand like a person has a nationality. If your country does not have a good reputation in your brand's category, success will be very difficult.

Austraila is perceived as a good place for wine, so is California, France, Spain, Chile and Italy.

Remember the Yugo? A car from Yugoslavia? That didn't work too well.

Even the US does not have a good reputation for making cars. Germany and Japan have the best reputation in that area. Also the best brands Mercedes, BMW, Toyota, and Lexus.

For a brand of Portuguese wine to be successful, first there would need to be awareness and brand building for Portugal as the place for good wine.

Rich Westerfield

Been a YT fan for some time. I think the answer to their WOM success was twofold:

1) Initial Pricing and Distributor training. When I first tried them, the 1.5 litre bottle was $10.99 in MA and CT. Equivalent of $5.50 for a 750ml. And that's cheap for anything as drinkable as YT. It was about as good as CA wine costing two or three times as much, and better quality than the previous Aussie price leader Jacobs Creek. I know I told at least a dozen people about YT, most of whom became consumers. I think Two-buck Chuck is having similar success... they don't advertise in the East except through TraderJoe's features, but it's selling like crazy where it's available. Even at $3.59. YT was priced to sell in large volume. Now that prices are creeping up, it IS time to advertise. There are already copy cats from ANZ following their lead.

2) Shelf Space and POP. Seemed everywhere I went there were YT bottles lined up three to six across for each of the varietals and sizes. And if the distinctive logos weren't enough, there were those little promo tags that directed the eye to the shelf space. You're correct in that there was no consumer advertising in media, but they did invest some bucks in in-store marketing.

YT also benefited from 'good-enough' reviews. No wine writers suggested YT would replace your first-growth Graves or Far Niente. But they made it sound fun and charming and worth the price.

Far as Portugal goes, I don't recall them doing any marketing at all. I don't recall any Portuguese wine getting shelf space, except for Mateus back in the 70s. This could be for any variety of reasons.

Dark horse in the wine biz could be Bulgaria. If they got their act together, they could be a force similar in quality to Aussies and potentially at even lower prices (a GOOD bottle might run you US$5 in Sofia. A GREAT bottle US$15). But you rarely see any Bulgarian varietals over here, just the jug stuff. Too bad, because most of is quite good.

Scott Miller

Laura, how did Yellow Tail generate their word-of-mouth? What exactly was the positioning angle that made them newsworthy? My guess is that they came to the USA pushing the fact that they are Australia's #1 wine. Was this the strength of their PR message?

Also, in Australia, how did they reach the top spot? What was their message in their home country? And if they had a unique, strong message at home, then perhaps it, too, can work in the USA.

hidden persuader

Talking about 'word of mouse' ... why do portuguese wines fail to get into the international consumer radar??


hidden persuader

Talking about 'word of mouse' ... why do portuguese wines fail the international consumer radar??

» http://observer.guardian.co.uk/magazine/story/0,11913,1272105,00.html


I've never tried either of these wines, but will definitely do so soon.

However, to call on the positioning angle... I can't seem to NOT think of Mike Myers as "Fat Bastard" in the Austin Powers movies when I read the above comments from Don and Laura. Am I alone?! Is this a good image to have when drinking wine??

Humorous discussion will hopefully follow!!



That is too funny! I too love Fat Bastard, even more than Yellow Tail, in terms of taste.

Fat Bastard is another example of building a brand with a unique name and strong word of mouth.

Thanks for the excellent point.

Don The Idea Guy

The Shiraz IS darn tasty. :)

Another wine that is currently
under the radar is "Fat Bastard Wine."

Their Shiraz is also a fine choice, and
they have one of the only Chardonnays I like.
They just introduced a Merlot, too.

I'm a fan of Yellowtail, but I really like
telling people about Fat Bastard!

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