Black Tower reveals half in daring relaunch

07 March, 2010

Leading German wine exporter Reh Kendermann has unveiled radical new looks for its iconic global brand Black Tower.

Following two years of in-depth consumer research in the UK, US and China, the brand’s flagship Black Tower Rivaner has switched to half-and-half colouring. New clear glass at the bottom for the first time reveals the colour of the white wine within, while the top half of the bottle retains the signature black of the Black Tower brand.

At the same time the characteristic roughened glass bottle has been dropped in favour of a new smooth glass design. The black colour is now applied using a coat of sprayed-on varnish.

“We think we are ready now for the next leap,” said Reh Kendermann managing director Nik Schritz at the launch in London’s Gherkin building, early Feb 2010.

“The word unique is often over-used and inaccurate, but Black Tower’s new pack design is exceptional. It combines the iconic black bottle with the ultimate, stand-out dramatic bottle design.”

More than 1.2 million 9-litre cases of Black Tower are now sold annually in 52 countries, and the range is the German brand leader in the UK (where, selling in excess of 500,000 cases, it is now four times bigger than its nearest competitor), Sweden, Finland, Korea and Brazil. It is, the company states: “A cult brand among younger drinkers.”

The research

So, seeking a “new dynamic for the BT brand and to revitalize the category”, Reh Kendermann selected groups of target drinkers in the UK, US and China – a market where it has limited brand loyalty having only been available for two years – for its qualitative and quantitative research. Participants were mainly females aged 25-35+; living full, often stressful lives; modern and design aware; fond of going out with friends and relaxing at the end of the day.

Despite the cultural and geographical differences between the three groups, the company was astonished to find that all the groups interviewed – after viewing different brand design options and comparing with Black Tower’s branded competitors – unanimously preferred the same new design.

The package

While retaining the familiar tall bottle shape, in addition to the smooth glass the new bottles (for the Classic range including Rivaner, Riesling, Pinot Grigio, Rosé and the red Dornfelder/Pinot Noir) now feature simplified front labels with clearer prominence for the Black Tower name and a cleaner, simplified black tower logo. The lower strip of each two-part label shows the varietal or blend name against a background colour matching that of its new, long screwcap top and neck foil.

The marketing

Under the new strapline, ‘Black Tower. Easy ends the Day”, some TV advertising will be seen in China and Scandinavia, but the UK will see a trade press campaign and a continuing emphasis on consumer tasting in-store and at events.

In the US the focus will be on three states, Florida, New Jersey and New York, where PR and promotions such as in-store lotteries will begin “In the second half of 2010,” according to Reh Kendermann marketing director Alexander Rittlinger.

Rittlinger sees the best potential for Black Tower’s growth in China, the US, Brazil, then Sweden and Norway. “China was the fastest growing in 2008/9,” he told Drinks International, “and it has great potential. Germany has a good reputation in China, and although they think of Germany more as a beer country, they are learning more and more about wine.”

In Black Tower’s biggest market, the UK, the new half-and-half bottle will only be used for the leading Rivaner line, whereas in other markets its use will vary according to the ranges listed and the wishes of individual distributors.

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