BOISE, Idaho -- Albertsons has uncorked a line of corporate-brand premium wines under three labels that extend the national retailer's reach into the high-margin wine category.
The three labels -- Origin, Jenica Peak Coastal and Q Sonoma County -- are not tiered by price or quality, said Mitch Oddo, vice president, liquor merchandising and procurement for the 2,300-store chain, based here. Origin is the label for imports, while the other two are Californians. The Q label is higher-end, offering only wines with regional appellations, but all three will cross into the high end at times.
"It's a new brand of wines that we have developed and will market as national brands, using unique marketing programs. We want to create brands," Oddo told SN. The chain has pursued identical strategies for its new private-label Essentia line of groceries and frozen foods and Max beverages.
"We will cross the mid- to high-retail spectrum at all times in our import category," Oddo said. "We are in the process now of bottling a Reserve Shiraz from Australia, and a very high-quality German Reisling. And we will cross into the high end as well for all of our brands."
Origin and Jenica Peak Coastal wines carry a wine style guide on the bottle, but the Q line does not, unless future consumer feedback indicates this is desirable, he said. Similarly, a flavor profile button on the front of each bottle of Origin gives customers a quick look at what each represents. Descriptions such as a "crisp" new Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and a "bold" Argentinian Malbec should help shoppers find the right wine for the occasion.
Suggestions will also come from direct mailers that highlight pairings of the Origin wines with food, Oddo said. Direct mail was developed from Albertsons' frequent-shopper card database, and SPECTRA data was used for those markets where the chain doesn't have a preferred card, Oddo said.
For now, the Origin line has six wines: Malbec, a red from Argentina, Shiraz and Chardonnay from Australia, Chianti and Pinot Grigio from Italy, and a Sauvignon Blanc Reserve from New Zealand, which Oddo described as "the best of the best." He declined to detail pricing, but said Albertsons will offer introductory specials as the program rolls out into new markets.
"With the tremendous growth of the import segment, we believe Origin will appeal to a broad range of consumers," Oddo said.
Along with the excitement of floor displays and endcaps, Oddo believes that each of the three lines will introduce new wines to consumers. Part of the Origin philosophy is to present less well-known wines, such as the Argentinian Malbec, "a great red that a lot of consumers don't know about."
Sales of the Malbec have been very good so far, he said. "Our goal is to introduce those types of varietals that are unique, and not as well known today as they will be tomorrow. We want to make it somewhat of an adventure, to bring people into our stores, somewhat of a 'treasure hunt' approach," Oddo said.
The chain is already planning for 2004, when the Reisling will appear along with a wine from Spain. The Q line will be expanded to offer Q Napa Valley appellation wines, Oddo said. New items will be added as the brand develops; for the spring 2004 launch, "we are continuing to develop additional varietals in Jenica Peak and Q also, for 2004 and beyond. It will be an ongoing process," Oddo said.