A recent report by Wine Intelligence on global trends for wine in 2020 discloses data showing a widespread decrease in wine knowledge in a number of major consumer markets between 2015 and 2019. But while knowledge is falling, evidence shows that wine is playing an increasingly important part in consumers’ lifestyles.

In terms of purchasing, ease of choice has become key. The time-strapped consumer is now relying on appearance and visual impact rather than on facts. So we asked ourselves which visual clues help consumers pick a wine as they scan the shelves and do medal stickers play a more significant role in consumers’ purchasing decisions?

Between September 2019 and February 2020, Concours Mondial de Bruxelles conducted a digital survey among producers who won awards at the competition along with a series of interviews with wine buyers from across Europe* and the United States, in order to assess the impact of medals on sales and marketing.

The results of the survey support the theory that medal stickers do indeed have a positive impact on consumer purchasing behaviour. Medals allow consumers to quickly pinpoint awarded wines, thus shortening the selection time and reducing the risk of making the wrong choice.

In supermarkets there aren’t always people to guide the consumer and wine aisles can be big and intimidating”, explains Jonas De Maere, Wine Program Manager for Ahold Delhaize USA. “A medal from a well-known competition always reassures the customer that the wines have been properly tested beforehand and can be trusted.”

Xavier Leclerc, Director of Retail Sourcing for Auchan France, details the evidence:
“When visiting the wine department of a supermarket, the consumer is faced with 80 listings in his or her field of vision and 99% of our customers are not familiar with wine, neither appellations nor grape varieties. Imagine the impact of a medal as a differentiator in this environment. At the same price and up to 15% more expensive, an awarded wine sells twenty times more. So as buyers, we place a lot of importance on these distinctive signs.”

According to the survey by Concours Mondial de Bruxelles, a medal from the competition can boost sales by up to 30% depending on the country. “Based on my experience, when one of our own brand wines has been awarded a medal, sales can increase by 20% to 30%, states Andrea Alonso, Wine Buyer for Makro Spain and Metro Group. “I am convinced that it offers added value for brands.”

Producers confirm the benefits of receiving an award from an international wine competition. 78% of wineries surveyed believe that their Concours Mondial de Bruxelles medal had a significant impact on their image. 77% of producers questioned report that the medal had a positive effect on their sales. And for lesser known producers in particular, a medal was seen as a key to opening up new markets:

“For a producer, a medal is a great marketing tool”, comments Jonas De Maere. ”I have had suppliers who won medals and were able to open up new markets after being proactively approached by buyers, just because they were on the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles website. That’s a great return on investment!”

But even if there is sufficient proof of the positive effects of wine awards, choosing the right competition to enter is not always easy. Sometimes a very high number of medals awarded in proportion to entries can cause a measure of mistrust in wine competitions. Unlike some rival competitions, Concours Mondial de Bruxelles follows guidelines issued by OIV and the International Oenologists’ Association, where only 30% of entries or less (often less) can be awarded.

Also, Concours Mondial de Bruxelles is the only competition that conducts checks on award-winning entries after 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 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 judging panel.

Judges on the panel are fully aware of, and value, the professionalism of Concours Mondial de Bruxelles, as confirmed by Xavier Leclerc: “As a professional judge, there are competitions that we prefer for their trustworthy methods and organization. Among international competitions, for me THE World Competition is Brussels. The quality of the judges imposes a level of stringency with regard to one’s own palate that I have not encountered elsewhere. In my opinion, it is the most reliable medal and when we receive the results, I notify buyers about medal-winning wines in their field.”

“Concours Mondial de Bruxelles is a top event in terms of organization where the wines are evaluated professionally. The panel members are highly competent, and it is a pleasure to taste in a team.” – Beáta Keszler, Wine Marketing Consultant at Dee-wine.com.

The 2021 Concours Mondial de Bruxelles will be held from June 17-27. The closing date for entries is April 20.

(*Including France, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Luxembourg, Austria, Germany and Bulgaria)