Australia's Novel Merchandising Idea (October 15, 2003)
Economic factors have caused a wine glut in Australia. A combination
of overplanting vineyards, the rising Australian dollar and over-zealous
pricing by wineries who receive a perfect 100-score from Robert Parker
has created a serious problem for the wine industry. The growing wine
lake has forced producers to adopt a new way of selling wines downunder.
Wineries are dumping products they cannot sell under a system they call
"cleanskins" anonymous wines without labels that must
be purchased by the dozen.
One of the largest internet companies involved in this business call
themselves Cleanskin Kings (www.ckdirect.com.au).
They advertise themselves as being "dedicated to offering quality
wines, from Australia's finest regions, at affordable prices." A
cleanskin wine, they say, takes the pretension out of "label drinking"
and emphasizes the value and quality of that wine. The advantage of a
cleanskin is the reduced price by taking away the marketing, design, labelling
and distribution costs and the savings passed onto you, the customer.
"Why pay for the label?" they say. "Cleanskin Kings can
offer you a wine of equal quality for around half the cost of labelled
wine." You don't know what the wine is or who produced it; all you
know is its colour and which region it comes from. If you're lucky, the
producer's name will be branded on the cork. To give you an idea of the
savings, wines that retail for $27.95 are sold as cleanskins for $11.95.