The Concours Mondial de Bruxelles (CMB) has reported a 20% rise in orders of medal sticker rolls in 2018 compared to the previous year.

“Medal stickers have a positive effect on both the consumer and the trade”, says Julia Kostadinova, a CMB panel member and editor in-chief of the Bulgarian magazine Divino. “People definitely pay attention to an award sticker. They are more likely to choose a wine with a medal from an important competition such as Concours Mondial over a wine without an award”, comments fellow CMB panel member Andre Ribeirinho, manager of Adegga and Winemarket Lisboa in Portugal. “If as an expert I were to choose a new wine, I would prefer the one with the award, because it shows an effort was made to ask other people to evaluate it”, adds Ribeirinho.

In 2018, the top ten countries ordering medals and buying the copyrights from CMB were: France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Bulgaria, Mexico, South Africa, Belgium and Romania. France and Spain were also at the top in 2017 and 2016. Orders from the next CMB host country Switzerland, also trebled compared to the previous year.

Belgium takes off

Belgium is a newcomer to the top ten list in 2018, after the country ordered 10 times more stickers compared to 2017. The industry has acknowledged a surge in sales of bottles bearing medal stickers. “We use the CMB medal to create a story about a wine, to tell the customer what the added value of that wine is”, says Jonas De Maere, CMB panel member and wine category manager at Belgium’s Delhaize stores. “Telling a story is extremely important”, he adds.

An award label on the bottle is a strategy for marketing wine and is required in many markets. An informal survey by Concours Mondial de Bruxelles among buyers, conducted at the start of 2018, showed that a medal from the competition can boost wine sales by between 18 % and over 40 % depending on the country.“International buyers make sure that a wine has an award before they list it. Especially if it is a new wine, or a new brand. A medal sticker is more important in some markets than in others. For buyers in Europe and the Americas, it is a must”, explains Sylvia Taskova, wine export manager of Edoardo Miroglio winery.

Gold valued more than silver

Gold medal stickers are viewed as more important than silver. A working paper by the American Association of Wine Economists (AAWE) claims that “a producer whose wine received a medal can augment its price by 13%. The impact of gold turns out to be much larger than for silver and bronze”. The study collected data from 11 competitions, including CMB.

50.9% of the orders for stickers are for CMB Gold medals, 41.3% for Silver, and 7.8% for Grand Gold Medals. The trend for the copyright is similar: the highest number of orders is for Gold medals (53.3%), with Silver (33.3%) and Grand Gold (13.3%) coming second and third.

A unique model

Consumers have become more knowledgeable about brands and the industry. They not only know a sticker means better quality, they can also tell the difference between medals from one competition to another.

The surge in medal sticker orders and copyrights might also be due to positive awareness of CMB. Concours Mondial de Bruxelles is the only competition that conducts checks on award-winning entriesafter the event by comparing a selection of the products with an anonymously-bought sample from the same batch. A significant part of the revenue from the medal stickers is invested in these post-event quality checks,designed to ensure consumers have the highest level of satisfaction from the wines endorsed by the panel.

The competition’s evaluation process is based on the model designed by OIV and the International Oenologists’ Union, allowing for up to 30% of entries to be awarded. Concours Mondial de Bruxelles is even stricter in its evaluation, assigning accolades to only 27-29 % of competing wines.

Furthermore, the organization of the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles is monitored annually by the Federal Public Service Economy of the Belgian government, which focuses primarily on the way medals are awarded and distributed.

The 2019 Concours Mondial competition will be held from 2 to 5 May, in Switzerland. 28 February is the closing date for entries and entry delivery.