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CMO50 2022 #26-50: Kristy Keyte

  • Name Kristy Keyte
  • Title Chief marketing officer
  • Company Penfolds (Treasury Wine Estates)
  • Commenced role July 2021
  • Reporting Line Managing director, Penfolds
  • Member of the Executive Team No
  • Marketing Function 83 staff, 9 direct reports
  • Industry Sector FMCG
  • 2021 ranking New to CMO50
  • Related

    Brand Post

    Working for a luxury wine brand would surely be many marketers’ idea of heaven, and it’s an opportunity Kristy Keyte, CMO of Penfolds, fully appreciates.

    “One of the most satisfying moments I have had in the last 12 months was attending the launch of our very first 'Penfolds French' wines in France in June of this year,” she says.

    “This was a real ‘rubber hits the road’ moment where we had our first reactions on our newly created French wines from wine critics, media and our important stakeholders from around the world, whom we had flown in for a series of experiences across Paris, Champagne, and Bordeaux.

    “It was incredibly special to see how positively this ground breaking project was received by all in attendance, and the recognition Penfolds was truly living up to its pioneering spirit credentials in an authentic way, taking this Australian brand to the next phase of its 178 year journey to date. A real golden moment for the whole team.”

    Innovative marketing 

    To be honest, much of it seems like golden moments.

    Since starting in Penfolds in 2019, Keyte’s vision has been to rally the business behind a strategic shift to transcend the wine category and move Penfolds from a fine wine brand, to a ‘global luxury icon’.

    To deliver on this goal, Keyte calculated its consumer base needed to double and expand into a second consumer target, the 'New Luxurian', a consumer who aspires to a luxury lifestyle and enjoys wine, but was previously less involved in the category.

    “Research told us the luxury category and the way consumers were interacting with it had evolved. New luxury codes of disruption, hype accessibility and being culture-led was defining the new luxury,” she explains.

    “I made a strategic shift to create a global thematic for which the brand could activate against in all markets. The objective was to deliver a consistent consumer experience of Penfolds, which was disruptive but authentic to Penfolds in a culturally relevant way.”

    In April 2022 she launched Penfolds first global brand thematic, 'Venture Beyond'. Venture Beyond personifies Penfolds’ spirit and desire to push the boundaries through self-belief with the concept of space exploration.

    This global activation platform included a series of playful limited release packaging, ‘out of this world’ retail pop ups, and immersive consumer experiences. The team successfully executed in Australia, Asia, and Europe.

    This achieved a social and traditional reach of 19.7 million.

    Business smarts

    In her roles as global marketing director and now CMO, Keyte has driven the vision to create a Penfolds' direct to consumer (D2C) model.

    As Keyte explains, the luxury goods sector continues to grow share in online sales. According to Bain & Company, the global online marketplace is slated to be 25 per cent of all luxury purchases by 2025.

    “Growth for luxury will be sourced via a younger audience than today. Sixty-one per cent will be composed of Millennials and Gen Z by 2026, up from 39 per cent in 2019," she says.

    “We aim to own the complete consumer experience, not just the top of the funnel. This allows us to access consumer data and insights to improve the consumer experience.

    “This will open up the ability to create disruptive and engaging digital and IRL experiences, enhancing our capacity to recruit consumers via personalisation, delivery experience (unboxing), and deliver a globally consistent experience - a hallmark of luxury brands.

    “This will give us more effective pricing control, a key component of luxury to deliver more profit, a significant margin growth story.”

    This strategy has resulted in the creation of a major cross-functional project stream to operationalise how she reach this goal. Initial steps include the appointment of a Penfolds global digital director and the restructure of the Penfolds e-commerce team.

    This is a significant driver for Penfolds to deliver long-term sustainable growth, plays to consumer trends and buying behaviour, and builds long-term equity to enable its vision to become a global luxury icon.

    Data-driven maturity

    In November 2021, Penfolds became the first wine brand to partner with BlockBar, the luxury direct-to-consumer non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace for wine and spirits. 

    This was Penfolds’ first time selling wines via NFT and cryptocurrency with the objective of connecting and building relationships with culture-led consumers.

    “We had several insights around high net worth consumers interacting with NFTs in the luxury space and believed Penfolds had enough equity to deliver a compelling offering. We knew the offering needed to be rare, collectible and unique to the NFT world to be effective,” Keyte explains.

    The first launch in November 2021 was tied to a rare Penfolds Magill Cellar 3 barrel of wine from the 2021 vintage, which sold out within 12 seconds for USD$130,000 – a record for BlockBar.

    Following the success of this first NFT drop, Penfolds released 300 bottles of 2018 Magill Cellar 3 in January 2022 and attached it to a gifting platform, so consumers could gift the NFTs to family, friends, colleagues without physically exchanging a bottle. 

    “Gifting is a key growth driver for Penfolds – it sits in the top two reasons consumers begin drinking luxury wine. The release sold out within 10 hours for USD$467 per bottle.

    “For our last NFT drop in February, we released a Superblend Imperial Duo (Superblend 802.A and 802.B) via BlockBar’s first NFT wine auction. The bottles sold at auction for USD$28,000.

    “The adoption of NFTs has attracted new consumers to Penfolds – 86 per cent of purchasers were aged between 18-34 with a global footprint. Media coverage was enormous around the world, with a reach of 1.69 billion.”  

    This series of NFT launches has provided a new revenue stream opportunity for Penfolds and has set the wheels in motion for a long term growth trajectory in the metaverse.

    "The launch of the first ever Penfolds NFT was brave because it was such an unknown entity and we really put ourselves out there with a chance of wild success or dismal failure. In this case, success came our way and it has paid off, not by the fact we have seen record sales at high price points, but also because of the huge media attention it garnered and the positioning role it played for Penfolds among an entirely new set of consumers.” 

    Customer-led value

    Late in 2021 Penfolds partnered with publisher and cultural experts, Highsnobiety, with the objective to develop the brand’s first cultural strategy and in doing so, better understand leading cultural trends, identify where Penfolds is best placed to authentically meet culture, and then, how to best reach the New Luxurian to fulfil its vision to become a global luxury icon.

    Highsnobiety conducted research across the US, UK, South Korea and China to help the brand define a Penfolds’ cultural identity. 

    “Further to this, we defined tactical considerations we needed to keep our eye on. One of these was a complete revamp of how we bring content to our consumers. The perfect example being a move from product-focused content to a curated lifestyle approach, where providing inspiration to consumers was key,” she says.

    “We also defined how we could best activate within compelling cultural territories to reach the New Luxurian effectively. We are now continuing our strategic partnership with Highsnobiety, to ensure we stay on top of cultural trends and deliver Penfolds in an authentic way to consumers. 

    “We are also using Highsnobiety as a publication partner globally and they are assisting us with the development of our upcoming creative collaborations.”

    Commercial and growth acumen

    The team is focused on delivering a product portfolio for long-term growth. For the past three years, its global marketing division has led a Penfolds Country of Origin strategy, where it looks beyond Australia to source grapes and make wine. 

    This idea is possible due to Penfolds’ multi vineyard/region sourcing strategy to select and blend quality grapes regardless of the block, vineyard, region, state or country they come from, to meet the Penfolds House Style made famous by Penfolds Grange.

    “Our ambition to make wine outside of Australia started decades ago thanks to our visionary winemakers, however, more recently our marketing team turned vision into reality working closely with all functions across the business to launch two new country of origin projects, our Californian and French portfolios,” Keyte says.

    “Driven by marketing, the team launched the inaugural Californian Collection in early 2021 with four red wines. In August 2022, we released our French Collection, featuring two wines made in Bordeaux.

    “In both the Californian and French portfolios, we have pioneered the ‘Wine of the World’ appellation. Wines from two different hemispheres have been blended, bottled and released as a world first under Penfolds at luxury price points.

    “This is a strategic leap for Penfolds and has driven our global business growth strategy and influenced the agenda across M&A. This newly shaped portfolio has been set up to enable Penfolds to become a global luxury icon, setting the brand up for long term sustainable growth.”

    Leadership impact

    In early 2021, Treasury Wine Estates underwent significant structural changes with the creation of a standalone Penfolds Division within Treasury Wine Estates.

    In her role as CMO, Keyte’s goal was to position marketing to be thought leaders who would drive business outcomes. 

    “I transformed the way our marketing leaders around the world interfaced, with the creation of a Global MLT to bring clarity, strategic alignment and intensity to the broader marketing team (83 people) and the entire Penfolds Division. This has had a huge impact on the way we share, review, plan, and execute our marketing programs across the world – as one consistent, cohesive and engaged team.

    “In November 2021, the MLT implemented a strategic change in the way we do brand planning, moving from one global brand plan and five regional brand plans to one Penfolds brand plan which delivers globally consistent strategic imperatives and global initiatives. 

    “In December 2021, we implemented Marketing Month where the team heard from inspiring thought leaders from outside the business. The response from the team was excellent and reflected in our engagement scores. I have also implemented a program to provide marketers with the opportunity to work on development projects outside of their core capability or skill set, to expand their experience and thinking but also bring a fresh point of view to different parts of the business.

    “I am incredibly proud of this highly talented, creative and commercially-driven marketing team who are truly pushing the boundaries. We are leading a strong and sustainable growth trajectory and I can hand on heart say this is a brand-led business which has consumers at its heart.”

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