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SAQ's Taste Tags
transform wine shopping

GOLD :: Best Launch
GOLD :: Retail
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OVERVIEW: SAQ transforms its communication effort, and its stores, to deal with a problem that the average wine drinker has lived with for generations.

SITUATION ANALYSIS: The Société des Alcools du Québec (SAQ) is responsible for the sale of alcoholic beverages in Quebec. It had historically advertised largely through promotions, and had done a lot to educate consumers about their choices. There was also no doubt that Québec is a wine-loving province. Even so, most Quebecers didn't know what to buy and thus tended to repeatedly go for the same product. Surely there was a solution to this - a way to help Quebecers to evolve their palettes, and embrace more expensive wines.

STRATEGY & INSIGHT: Although the SAQ's positioning had been "Nice Advice," which had included a lot of effort into training staff, consumers didn't feel comfortable asking for advice. The reason was simple-they didn't have the right vocabulary. Moreover, the layout and merchandising in SAQ stores was not conceived according to consumers' needs, but by industry standards. This assumed that someone looking to buy a bottle of wine would know the grape or country they were interested in, and the majority of consumers simply did not have that knowledge.

EXECUTION: The solution was to transform the outlets, and all other communication effort, around the idea of Taste Tags - four for red wines and four for white. These tags help consumers identify their wine profiles, giving them the vocabulary they have been missing. Each tag has two adjectives (e.g. Fruity and Light; Aromatic and Robust) and each comes in a distinctive colour. So, once they know their profiles, consumers can talk confidently to the SAQ staff, and can easily pick up a wine in their flavour range. This transformation rolled out in mid 2009 using POP, TV, magazines, radio, online, taste testing kits, wine tastings, an iPhone application, and Taste Tags on the SAQ headquarters.

RESULTS: The launch had an immediate short-term impact, with sales up 31% versus objective and 14% versus year-ago during the initial promotion period. For 2009/2010 there was also a 7% upswing in the average price paid per bottle. This signalled an encouraging shift to quality during difficult economic times. The system has also been adopted by banners such as Metro, Costco, Loblaws and Sobeys - and by restaurants like St-Hubert.

CAUSE & EFFECT: The TV ads tested well above norms for all key attributes, and consumers give the whole system high marks (data were supplied). Spending was in line with typical levels, and there was no unusual price discounting. Finally, the overall economic climate, if anything, would have depressed sales and average selling prices.

Société des Alcools du Québec (SAQ)
Chantal St-Pierre - Director Strategic Marketing
Sandrine Bourlet - Marketing Director
Daniel Aumont - Store Planning, Design and Engineering Director
Guillaume Lévesque - Project Manager Store planning and Design - Outlet Network
Josée Landry - Marketing Analyst
Annie Levesque - Marketing Technician

Sid Lee, Aedifica

Jimmy Lee - Agency Producer
La Fabrique D'images - Producer
Technicolor - Post Production
Simon Sauvé - Offline Editing
Boogie Studio - Sound
Graphiques M&H - Infography
Catherine Laporte - Illustrations
CPS Sérigraphie - Print