Wednesday, 6 April 2016

No I Don't Want Your English Wine

Which is better, French wine or English?

A lot of people think that French wine is good. And it is, it’s fantastic and debonair and classy as shit.

(Unlike that sentence perhaps.)

French wine is what people think of when they think of great wine. I mean hell, French wine is what people think of when they think of wine in general. They’re synonymous. Interchangeable. French wine is the wine that you want.

And the pinnacle of French wine’s class and sophistication is held by that French fizzy wine we call champagne.

Which is why it’s an interesting truth that studies find that many people prefer English “champagne” to the Gallic original, in blind taste tests.

That doesn’t make sense. You can’t trust English people with anything gourmet, let alone top quality wine.

(Yes that is a bit rich coming from the land of deep-fried Mars Bars. Dealwivit.)

It makes so little sense that, even knowing this fact, I still know that French wine is better.

Because perceptions of a brand don’t have to have anything to do with reality.

Donald Trump’s presidential campaign is a fantastic current example of this as well. Trump projects certain qualities. Tough on immigration. Standing up for the little guy. No nonsense.

Never mind that Trump has happily employed illegal immigrants, stomped on any little guy he can find, and quite clearly built an entire career on bullshit.

(There’s an entire series of articles I could write on the glory and horror that is the Trump campaign and its wrecking-ball impact on the US presidential election, but I really don’t know if I can be arsed. Being a politics student can do that to you.)

But Trump is an example of the negative side of this phenomenon. If nothing else because a presidential election is rather more important than the bottle of wine in your cupboard.

(You know, until you get home from work and you reall need a drink because Janice has been in your ear all day about Bruce from finance. Fucking Janice.)

The point is that perceptions don’t have to be the same as fact, at least when what you’re selling is an experience. A product should do what it’s supposed to. But if it’s a wine or a painting, or even a child’s toy, it’s not about just what it does. It’s about how it makes you feel. It’s about the imagination and the satisfaction and the idea of the product.

In the least cynical way possible, it’s worth remembering that the product and the brand don’t have to be tied too tightly together. Because often people value what they can believe of the product and a brand as much as what can physically get from it.

A brand may be intangible. But so is value itself. Value is what you make of it.

So get out of here with your English wine. I want my wine pretentious, poetic, and French.

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