Focus PR - Morrisons' Taste Test Wine Showcase

Focus PR was appointed to handle the wine portfolio for Morrisons in September 2012, launching, the multiple grocer’s first foray into multi-channel retailing, and the revolutionary online Taste Test tool.

The Taste Test – three simple questions relating to hot drinks, salt and sugar – uses sophisticated algorithms to define a flavour profile based on each person’s individual taste preference from zero to 12 (grouped into sweet, fresh, smooth or intense). Every wine in the Morrisons portfolio is matched to a Taste Test profile number, thus removing the risk to consumers of buying wines they might not like and, at the same time, encouraging them to try new wines, confident in the knowledge that they will enjoy them.

What did Morrisons want you to do for them?

Morrisons has a 13.5% share of the UK grocery market but not of the wine category, where it currently under-trades by £100m a year. The ultimate goal is to make up this trading gap by breaking down barriers to wine purchasing online and in-store.

Specifically, our brief was to:

  • Dramatically improve the reputation of Morrisons in the wine category through positive media coverage and reappraisal of its offering
  • Build as a credible platform and destination for wine purchases by the case
  • Encourage media and consumers to engage with the Taste Test, which serves to demystify the category and unlock key barriers to purchase

Any potential pitfalls you needed to take into account?

  • Customers are exiting the category. Morrisons conducted several surveys to understand customer needs better when purchasing wine: shoppers are confused by the wine category and disappointed when they try something new and it fails to appeal
  • Historically, Morrisons had received lacklustre media coverage for its wine offering so we needed to encourage media and consumers to reappraise the extended range and, most importantly, earn their trust

OK, and what was your grand plan to tackle this?

We needed to facilitate an understanding among the media of the commitment which has been put into Morrisons’ wine range, both in-store and online. offers a unique approach to online wine retailing: a site that informs with personality in a friendly and non-patronising way.

We kicked off with a dynamic press office campaign, re-establishing relationships with key wine writers and consumer lifestyle journalists, highlighting hero wines, providing samples and story ideas.

In March 2013 we created a wine tasting – a supermarket wine showcase like no other – to bring to life the unique Taste Test tool, helping customers to be more informed when purchasing wine and enabling them to shop confidently within the extended Morrisons range. We also created a mobile-optimised Facebook app, allowing consumers to take the Taste Test and share their results.

Sounds good. What outcome did all this have on Morrisons' business?

  • In the first six months alone we increased Morrisons’ positive media coverage five-fold (with over 400 pieces of editorial)
  • 40 journalists attended the launch of and Taste Test, which produced 48 pieces of positive editorial coverage with a reach of 155m
  • The Taste Test app was named by ShortList as its App of the Week
  • 4,000+ consumers have taken the Taste Test so far, with an overwhelmingly positive response
  • Morrisons is set to meet its £100m growth target for wine sales and has over-performed against all targets
  • The Taste Test has introduced something never seen before in retail; it has revolutionised how wine is merchandised and the way consumers look at, respond to, and buy wine
  • now has over 36,000 customers
  • Hitwise data shows now regularly receives more visits each week than Virgin Wines after six months of trading
  • Eileen McGuinness of Morrisons said, "The launch of was fantastic and undoubtedly played a fundamental role in helping us smash online sales targets. Always highly professional, hardworking and focused, Focus PR are an essential extension to our team."

Impressive. Any gems of wisdom you learned from working on this that you’d like to pass on?

The Taste Test is already beginning to revolutionise the way we shop for wine and, as a result of the successful and Taste Test showcase in March 2013, Morrisons’ wine portfolio is now riding on the crest of a wave. The Taste Test is on trial in-store ahead of roll out and the wine aisle is now merchandised by Taste Test profile rather than the traditional red/white and country of origin format.

Initial results are extremely encouraging and the success of the campaign to date is effectively summarised by the following review of the and Taste Test showcase:

"…it was on a cold spring morning that I entered an Alice-in-Wonderland world of flavour signposts, plant sculptures, finger foods and other atmospheric props aimed at nailing my preferences…I was amazed to find that these were not the Morrisons wines of yesteryear, but a sea-change in quality from anything that had gone before."Anthony Rose, The Independent

Furthermore, Morrisons won Best Consumer Campaign in The Drinks Business Awards 2013 and has been shortlisted for Supermarket of the Year in the International Wine Challenge Merchant of The Year Awards 2013…

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