Fresh off the Press: Cebu's First Mango Wine

It took me awhile to publish this since my trusty Mac is miles away (i.e. no Photoshop) and I forgot to bring my sd card uploader. Anyhow, I had to make reservation for two bottles of Conrad's mango wine at Tinderbox to ensure I get my hands on the first mango wine of Philippines' mango capital, Cebu. Conrad's distribution channel seems to be limited. For exclusivity, perhaps? Based on the price point of below PHP1000, I expected it to be a mid-range wine.

Tastes like a Rose 

If I were blind-folded and were to do a wine test, I would say the taste resembles a Rose or a White Zinfandel. Refreshing. Lightly sweet although hints of mango is close to null. To quote my foreign guests who also tried the mango wine, "where is the mango in it?" According to their website, it is being categorized as a dessert wine. However, due to its lack of bold flavor and sweetness of a Muscat or a Tokaji (my favorite), I disagree with their categorization. According to US standards, a dessert wine is legally defined as any wine over 14% alcohol, whereas Conrad's mango wine only has 12%. There are also some examples of meals that one can use the mango wine for cooking. Isn't it too expensive to be utilized as cooking wine?

The Wine Label Makes a Big Difference
I am very particular about wine labels since I specialized in research projects for one of the biggest wineries in the world in my past life- testing wine labels for new wines was one of them. Disclaimer: My comments below are meant to improve and help better market the mango wine both locally and internationally. 
Sometimes, the truth hurts. Imported mangoes from the Philippines are marketed as "Manila Mangoes" overseas. It also perplexes me since the mangoes obviously come from Cebu, but my best guess is that it is a matter of brand/place recall. More non-Filipinos know where Manila is compared to Cebu- this is a problem of the DOT (Department of Tourism of the Philippines). For my predominantly American readers, Cebu is pronounced as "Seh-boo". But I digress.

On a bigger scale, there are many ways to get the word out (e.g. by joining international wine festivals, getting featured by the likes of New York Times or the Wall Street Journal, etc.). Locally of course, there is always the celebrity endorsement method (e.g. send a box of wine for free to your target market like Kris Aquino or socialite/bloggers Divine Lee or Jenni Epperson). Getting a nod from the big wigs in Manila is different from getting a nod from the Lhulliers of Cebu, for instance. To make it purely Cebuano, how about a Mango Wine bar in Cebu with a similar concept to the Academia da Cachaca of Brazil where all drinks are infused with the national Brazilian liquor, cachaca.

The smaller details count a lot. Conrad's SEO/SEM strategy is weak. Invest in adwords to gain exposure online and make it easier for researchers/writers/bloggers to find out about Conrad's mango wine.  It also pains me to see businesses with unpolished websites so please hire a creative website designer. Before choosing a new wine label, hire a credible international market research firm to conduct image highlighter and ransom note/text highlighter analyses. Hope they have funding to make it all happen.

Introducing a new (wine) product is challenging, especially to a non-wine producing nation where a wine culture is yet to be established and cheaper San Miguel products have saturated the market for alcohol consumers. No one wants this to be another Indian wine story, which is struggling to compete with wine-producing nations in the international shelves. Although Conrad's makes a good effort to promote Cebuano food and culture, focus on making the business scalable and profitable in the long run. Overall, Conrad's mango wine has potential and must be marketed with caution.

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