Despite Mouton Cadet, generally volume brands were not significant in the light wine market until about 1990. The contrast with the development of spirit brands, which have moved towards international branding more obviously than wine, is telling. What has been central to consolidation in the marketing of spirits is that whilst different countries have different preferred product types (vodka in Poland, Russia and Scandinavia, bourbon in the USA, rum in much of Central and South America), within each product category a few brands have been established as worldwide leaders. With wine, at least until recently, national tastes have varied substantially, and the symbolic significance of wine (especially its association with status – the need to drink what is ‘appropriate’ – and national identity) have tended to focus consumption on a limited range in each country, and a range which may not be widely consumed outside that country. The comparison with gin is interesting. Five major gin brands globally account for 63 per cent of the market, and the five largest producers of gin have 75 per cent of the market share. Similarly, with rum the top five international brands jointly command a 41 per cent share of the market (Euromonitor, 2004). Such global reach has become very attractive for some in the wine industry where the top five producers account for less than 5 per cent of all sales; the ability to develop a genuinely transnational brand, recognized in many or most of the world’s wine markets, has become a key aim. Stephen Millar, the head of the wine division for Constellation wines (the world’s largest producer) has said that ‘There is no Coca-Cola . . . of the winemaking world. We certainly intend to be just that’ (Hughes, 2003). The advantage for consumers, of course, is that in making such wines widely available the security which is offered by branding is more easily accessible (Aaker, 1996). The desire
to establish transnational brands has reflected the growing consolidation in the wine producing sector – a point noted by Demossier (2004):
The growth of multinational and transnational corporate enterprises is a powerful force for global convergence of values and behaviour, especially in relation to taste. Secondly, these economic transformations have permitted a substantial increase in the quantity and quality of wines produced, and one of the effects of growing competition has been the transformation of wine into a high-quality product that is increasingly sold through chains or supermarkets (2004, p. 95).