WINERY AIMS TO WOO SHOPPERS WITH ROMANCE

SAN MATEO, Calif. -- Blossom Hill Wines here has developed a new marketing campaign that associates its brand with romance.The "Let Romance Blossom" campaign aims to persuade consumers that romance and wine go together and attempts to convince them that neither should be reserved solely for special occasions. Rather, they should be a regular part of everyday life.The company combines national media

SAN MATEO, Calif. -- Blossom Hill Wines here has developed a new marketing campaign that associates its brand with romance.

The "Let Romance Blossom" campaign aims to persuade consumers that romance and wine go together and attempts to convince them that neither should be reserved solely for special occasions. Rather, they should be a regular part of everyday life.

The company combines national media advertising and an endorsement from romance author Gregory Godek with point-of-purchase materials.

Case cards and shelf-talkers will be available in-store throughout the promotion, which runs throughout May and June. The "bottle neckers" displayed on the product bear a toll-free phone number for ordering a booklet called "101 Ways to Make Romance Blossom." The northern California winery commissioned Godek, author of "1001 Ways to Be Romantic" and "The Portable Romantic," to write it.

Marketing wines is complicated by the fact that only 30% of Americans drink wine and 12% of consumers shop the wine aisles.

The campaign aims to draw consumers to the wine aisle by associating a product that is primarily an impulse purchase with love and intimacy. Men as well as women are targeted, with ads in a variety of national publications, such as "Elle," "Cosmopolitan" and "Playboy."

"We've always thought that Blossom Hill went with romance," said Laura Coblentz, marketing manager, because of the brand's soft-colored, flowery label. "We conducted research nationwide in 18 markets to find out what people really think about romance and we found that they value it, but it's not as big a part of their lives as they would like."

She called Americans "romantically challenged," because 19% of those surveyed could not remember their last romantic moment, yet 53% said romance was more important than money.

In the conservative wine industry where cents-off coupons, consumer sweepstakes and recipe booklets are the norm, Coblentz said this type of promotion is completely unheard of.

"This is so much more interesting, we felt, than a regular old coupon. It is value-added for the consumer and value-added for the retailer," she said.

Blossom Hill is a subsidiary of Heublein.