Treasury Wine Estates ramps up consumer engagement with augmented reality app portfolio

CEO says AR platform allows the ASX-listed wine maker to target millennials, tech enthusiasts and the trade

Treasury Wine Estates is rolling out an augmented (AR) reality app portfolio for at least four of its wines globally after a US pilot across its 19 Crimes brand became one of its most successful marketing activations.

TWE CMO, Simon Marton, told CMO the shopping experience for wine is increasingly becoming like traditional consumer packaged goods at the point of purchase. The decision to invest in an AR app, initially for the group’s more millennial-oriented and fast-growing 19 Crimes brand, was about adding an experiential element to the wine buying and consumption experience.

“This about giving the shopper the ability to experience our brands in news ways that are entertaining, educational and experiential,” he said. “The old ways of connecting with consumers don’t work well all the time anymore. Something like this, that uses new technology that is more scalable, accessible and easy to use, looked like a great idea and we ran with it.”  

The first iteration of the AR app for the 19 Crimes label launched in the US last August. Users download the app, then hover their phone over the five varietal bottles to hear each convict featured on each label tell their story. In some instances, multiple scripts are available for each face.

In a financial presentation this week, TWE CEO, Michael Clarke, described the AR offering as one of the most successful activations in the first half of the year, with more than 800,000 downloads in the US to date, and large-scale consumer and retailer interest. The app was developed in partnership with global agency, J Walter Thompson, and led out of the San Francisco office.

As a result of its success, TWE in January evolved the AR app into the ‘living wine labels’ portfolio, bringing the AR experience to four additional brands in its stable: The freshly launched Walking Dead and Beringer Bros ranges, plus the Gentlemans’ Collection and Chateau St Jean brands. The 19 Crimes app has also been extended across to 90 countries, Marton said, including Australia.

AR content for each brand will be designed to reflect the brand attributes and communications campaigns for each, he said. For example, in February, TWE will launch a new education-led AR experience within the platform focused more on information about the vineyard and wine production process.

In addition, in the case of the Walking Dead and Beringer Bros wine debuts, the AR app is playing a central role in the communications campaign, Marton said. Both of these campaigns are being rolled out right now.

Alongside this, TWE is producing in-store gondolas that will see the app and wine bottles showcased at the point of purchase.

Marton said AR particularly appeals to three target customer segments. The first is millennials, while the second is technology enthusiasts. The third is consumers “who like new things”, he said, such as influencers and the trade.

To gauge the success of the app investment, Marton said he’s tracking downloads, average use time per use – which is now sitting at about 3 minutes – frequency of use, and distribution gains from brands via its partners. There’s also plenty of word-of-mouth earned media flow-on effect, and he noted one US retailer’s post about the AR app had already generated 19 million views.In addition, the app is triggering several consumers to collect all five 19 Crimes varietals to take home in order to share the AR experience with friends at home.

“There’s plenty of runway still open to us on this – really, we’re just getting started,” he added.

During his financial presentation, Clarke noted 19 Crimes was one of fastest-growing brands within the TWE portfolio, growing to 1.5 million cases shipped annually. This represented 131 per cent year-on-year sales growth in the US, 111 per cent in the UK, and 44 per cent in Australia.

The 19 Crimes brand is a key pillar in TWE’s aggressive plans to grow its US presence, a plan that now sees the whole business transform its route to market to embrace direct relationships with retailers in the region. The brand currently encompasses five wine varietals.

“We also now have high expectations of the brand outside of the US and are seeing high consumer appeal and rate of sale in Australia, the UK and Canada,” Clarke said.

“We’ll be supporting this activation in big way in the US in second half of the year to drive in-store excitement, portfolio distribution and consumer engagement. And we’ll be launching the Living Wine Label app in Australia, the US, European and Asia as it has big great potential in all our markets, particularly with millennial consumers.”

Across the group, TWE reported EBIT of $283.3 million, up 25 per cent on the first half of 2017, with all regions including Australia showing margin growth and outperforming expectations. Net profit was up 37 per cent to $187.2m.


Check out more of CMO's coverage on how brands capitalise on augmented reality technology:

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