Benchmarking… how did we go?

Published by Mark Pollard - 10th Aug 2016

Last week we undertook the largest benchmarking exercise with our wine portfolio that we have ever done. Of the 90 odd wines on the site we randomly chose 66 across all varieties and price points. We then went and bought the market leader benchmark at both the Angel price and the Non Angel price for each of those wines. Basically this meant for each wine we had a competitor wine that sells at the Angel price and also the Non Angel price, the type of wines that you would find in the local Dan Murphys, First Choice or Liquorland. It is the most comprehensive benchmarking tasting that we have conducted.

As such we tasted 180 wines, all blind (all the bottles were covered so that we had no idea which wine was which), by varietal. This meant in each bracket we could have $8 wine up against $40 wine, both Naked and non Naked wines. This is obviously a hard mark, but one we wanted to undertake to keep ourselves honest, not only on style, but also price.

Of course we do get most of our information on how a wine is going from the Buy It Again (BIA) ratings and comments from you the Angels, but we also like to make sure that the Naked wines are offering great value and at least matching the market in terms of popular styles. In fact it is quite interesting to see the BIA ratings for the wines that did really well and those that didn’t go too well! It is fascinating but more on that later.

We had five Naked staff, from Wine, Marketing and Customer Happieness. We also had an independent winemaker, Corey Ryan, ex Chief Winemaker McWilliams and Chief Winemaker Dorrien Estate (Woolworths) who’s also a well renowned Wine Judge on the Wine Show circuit.

We judged the wines with a score out of 20 following the standard wine show guidelines but with no pre conceived idea of what to look for or what to mark up or down, as they do in Wine shows.

So how did we go?

Overall our wines stood up very well and we can be very proud of the wines that our winemakers are providing. There were some absolute standouts, like the Lodestar SA Shiraz and the Mechanic Shiraz, which are both around $10 Angel price, out pointing many $40 market leading products. We had the top:

Riesling (Rabbit & Spaghetti Tamar Riesling),
Sparkling (Obelisk Pinot Noir Chardonnay NV),
Rose (Wiley Rooster Hunter Valley Rose),
Semillon (Thomas Hordern Hunter Valley Semillon),
Chardonnay (Westbound Pemberton Chardonnay),
Tempranillo (Brian Fletcher El Cid Tempranillo),
Viognier (Ash Horner Family Reserve Viognier),
Other White (Chateau Coco Fiano),
Cabernet (Hearts and Bones Angeli Cabernet) and
Cabernet Blend (Jen Pfeiffer Hero Cabernet Merlot).

On top of this we had a raft of wines that came a close second.

However it wasn’t all great news, there were 15 wines that didn’t really stack up from a style and / or pricing perspective. We did however overlay the BIA ratings and it did make us question what we need to do, if anything…..?!

In general terms of style, our Marlborough Sauvignons did seem a little out of place with what the market are offering. This isn’t to say that our wines were bad but the Market leading wines did show a quite bit more sweetness and obvious fruit characters. Interestingly your BIA ratings really don’t match with what we found with our scores! They are very high and would indicate that you like the wines as is!

It was a very similar picture with the Pinot Noir bracket. Our scores indicated that our Pinots were not up to scratch with the market, they looked to be a little more lighter in style, with less obvious oak. But again, the BIA ratings on these wines would indicate that you guys like what the Winemakers are doing!! So perhaps our winemakers are doing the right things and leading the way.

Some of the issues that we found, apart from being out of place in terms of price at the Non Angel price, included a couple of wines that looked faulty and since the tasting we have re tasted and the wines do look quite different. Another reminder that there is bottle variation and if you are not happy with one wine, make sure you get a refund and try another, just in case it is bottle variation and not a bad wine.

So, what to do with this information? Well we are really quite chuffed that are wines are living up to the promise. Lots of good feedback for our winemakers. There are a couple of wines that we will be repositioning on Non Angel price because we think they are not quite offering the value that they should. We will also talk to some of the winemakers about potentially looking at creating a wine that sits with what the market seem to be doing, so that we can see how it is taken with the Angels. This seems like a safer bet than changing something that looks to be working.

Cheers
Poll

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