Q&A with Neil Anderson, marketing director at Kingsland Drinks.
By Richard Siddle
Kingsland Drinks claims to have been the first major bottling company of bulk wine in the UK. It has gone on to become a key partner for a number of major grocery chains and wine brands from all over the world as it has developed its capabilities and bottling lines to keep up with the demands for bottled in market wines.
It is, for example, one of the first businesses to install a fully carbonated line, capable of carbonating still wine and capitalising on the boom for sparking wine (even though EU regulations do not allow it to market it as such). It is also now able to package wine in a range of different formats from cans to bag in box to pouches.
Here we catch up with Neil Anderson, marketing director of Kingsland Drinks, about how it has developed its business to be far more than simply a bottling business, but a company that can be involved in all stages of the process from sourcing, blending, brand development, marketing through to consumer insights and picking out the new trends of the future.
You do a lot of your own insights now with your WinePro consumer trends analysis. Why?
Kingsland Drinks has a unique model in that we don’t have a branded agenda. We can offer clear, honest, independent advice to our customers. We can share our consumer data and show them where the new real opportunities are.
Can you explain more?
Wine in general has got a lot of catching up to do with other FMCG sectors. We need to be on top of these consumer insights if we are to offer a good service to our customers. The world is changing fast and we have to understand how if we hope to play a part in it. Our challenge is to provide the most relevant consumer insights and data.
How do you mean?
We have not only identified different types of wine consumer, but gone much deeper in to understanding the occasions when people want to drink wine, and what wines they want to drink when they do. Consumers will also behave differently in different consumer occasions and we have to be on top of that as well. That is the power of WinePro.
Well, let’s look at bag in box. This is a category with lots of potential but consumers are not interested in buying three litre formats. But how about if we sold it in 1.5 litre or different sizes? Through WinePro we know that 84% of wine is now consumed with food which really helps us in our planning. A further 81% of total spend on wine is being made by people aged 45 years and over. Up from 77% in 2015. We need to understand consumer and demographic dynamics more. Like the fact that 45% of the population is going to be over 44 by 2022. WinePro is all about trying to understand the consumer better and where wine might fit in to their lives.
What practical lessons have you been able to take from your research?
People are not interested in 20 reasons why they should be buying a bottle of wine. They just want two very clear messages they can take away. They want to be engaged more. They want to feel like they have learnt something. They are more interested in taste. It is not taking the magic of wine away, but it is understanding how beer and spirits brands, for example, understand the consumer they are talking to. It is a prerequisite now if you if you want to work with the major retailers to be able to offer them unique insights.
How do you see the future of bulk wine?
It is already very important in the UK and now accounts for 65% to 70% of all wine bottled in the UK. I genuinely think it is the sexy side of the industry. I feel that with a passion. Any objection to bulk wine is only coming from the trade and any criticism is unfair. Ninety-five percent of consumers do not care where a wine is bottled and when they do it is only for premium priced wines. If they ask you only have to talk about the benefits and the fact the wine is better handled and fresher. Economically it makes sense to bottle more wine in the UK with the issue of currency. It is how you are able to offer genuine value to the retailer in both the on and off-trades. It is now for many of our customers the starting point of any conversation.
You are seeing big growth for the business?
We have grown 60% in turnover over the last three years and taken on 100 more people to 370 in total. We have gone from handing 70m litres of wine in 2014 to 100m now and have further plans to grow significantly. It is why we have changed the name of the business from Kingsland Wines to Kingsland Drinks. Although 95% of what we do is wine we are now also handling more spirits and general alcohol beverage products. You have to have one eye on the future.
Any tips for the future?
The fusion category is our fastest growing area of business. There is going to be a lot more carbonated and fusion drinks in the market over the next few months.
And for Kingsland Drinks?
Our export business is only currently one to two per cent and we have got very ambitious plans to grow that with our unique model.