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Folonari Harnesses Its Italian Roots

Posted on  | March 26, 2014   Bookmark and Share
Written by |

Rocco Lombardo

One of Italy’s most iconic brands is getting a makeover and new ad campaign. Rocco Lombardo, Chief Operating Officer, Frederick Wildman & Sons, shares his enthusiasm and insight for the brand.

The Beverage Network: What led to the decision to repackage Folonari?

Rocco Lombardo: Frederick Wildman has worked with Folonari for over two decades, and while it’s a very
significant brand—300,000 cases in the U.S. last year—it has struggled to gain a foothold in the magnum category. Since its beginning, the brand was built around large format. We needed to take a fresh look at our go-to-market strategy, so we hired a third party agency to help us gain some market insights.

TBN: What did you learn from their research?

RL: Millennials make up over half the consumer base for Folonari, which is much higher than we thought and higher than our competition. We were surprised to learn that the Millennial generation has no preconception of the brand; they are impressed with the traditional style of the label and feel it reflects its origins well. While we did find some negative equity with the trade, the consumer looks positively on the brand.

TBN: Based on these findings, what changes have you made to Folonari?

RL: About 75% of shoppers have not made a buying decision prior to entering the store—they are driven by what is promoted at the store. We need a stronger message to the trade, and we need to stand out more on the floor to drive consumer takeaway. How do you speak to the consumer? Packaging and floor presence. Our new ad campaign, “Amore Italia,” is about going back to the brand’s Italian roots. Folonari delivers the passion of Italy in every bottle.  

TBN: How has Folonari’s promotion strategy changed?

RL: Resources are being shifted away from simply supporting price to supporting our media ad campaign. We are by far the highest-scoring brand in our competitive set with an incredible quality-to-price ratio, so we are confident the wines will benefit from this strategy. Retailers will also see a stronger consumer outreach program in media and in stores. Folonari has not had a significant ad campaign in eight years, so
it’s very exciting.

TBN: How do you plan to reclaim Folonari’s position in the large format category?

RL: Folonari was born in the 1970s as a large-format brand to compete with California. The Amore Italia campaign is focused on revitalizing Folonari in the 1.5L category. We are also gaining a stronger foothold in the premium 3L bag-in-box ($19). We entered two years ago with Pinot Grigio and Pinot Nero, and this year we are launching a Rosso di Toscana and Montepulciano with a wrap-around Italian flag.

TBN: What are the most popular wines in the Folonari range and have they changed over time?

RL: The top-selling wines are Pinot Grigio, Chianti, Montepulciano and Pinot Nero. Interestingly, we have seen a movement away from international varietals like Chardonnay and Cabernet for this brand, as consumers embrace the traditional Italian varietals. Italy’s native grapes continue to be one of its greatest strengths—and a major reason why it remains the #1 country for U.S.
imported wine.

TBN: Has Folonari made any changes to the wine style?

RL: You may see the subtle impact of climate change, but there has been no influence from the American market as to how these wines should be made stylistically. Our goal is to market and sell these wines; we are not here to influence hundreds of years of tradition.


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