Yellow Tail turns 20

November 25, 2021
By Ioni Doherty

Yellow Tail, the Australian family-owned wine brand that has won millions of hearts around the world, celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2021. In direct contrast to its humble beginnings, it is now a 13.5 million (9LE) case brand, available in over 60 countries worldwide. Parent company Casella Family Brands employs over 900 staff in locations across Australia and works with 155 distributor partners to bringYellow Tail wines to consumers around the globe.  

John Casella, Managing Director of Casella Family Brands, created Yellow Tail in 2001. His mission was to make a wine that people could enjoy on any occasion and that consistently over delivered on quality and value. He set about creating a flavoursome wine and approachable Australian brand that would appeal to people wanting to avoid the complexity of wine.  

From humble beginnings to a global wine success story.

In 1957, Filippo and Maria Casella emigrated from Sicily to Australia, eventually settling in Yenda, New South Wales. They built a small winery in 1969 and started making wine, blending their passionate Italian winemaking heritage with the relaxed Australian attitude to life. The wines were made in an easy-drinking, food-friendly style for friends and family to enjoy together.

Years later, the family’s sociable approach to enjoying wine inspired John Casella’s vision for Yellow Tail to turn the conventional wine category on its head was at the heart of the brand’s early success. He identified and targeted a large untapped consumer base of potential wine drinkers who mostly consumed beer and set out to make the wine category an approachable one to them.

Mr Casella predicted – correctly –  that drinkers would be receptive to a particular style of wine. 

Yellow Tail was created as a fruit-forward, accessible, easy-drinking alternative. From the wine through to the packaging, everything about it demystified and simplified the wine choice and attracted a new category of wine drinkers – and a sizeable market opportunity.

The key to success

The first shipment was of 1,104 cases (9LE) in 2001, and in 2021 Yellow Tail became a 13.5 million (9LE) case brand¹. Since inception, the total volume of wine produced means that almost 12.5 billion glasses² of Yellow Tail wine have been enjoyed globally.

Furthermore,Yellow Tail has been recognised as the Most Powerful Wine Brand in the World for four years in a row.  

Mr Casella said, “At its inceptionYellow Tail stood out in an overly crowded and traditional wine category due to its unique personality and differentiated positioning. As the category has become increasingly cluttered and fragmented, with consumer tastes and trends constantly changing, we have had to work extremely hard to maintain our position and continue to growYellow Tail worldwide.”

Remaining relevant

From two founding products (Shiraz and Chardonnay) to an impressive portfolio of 23 varietals, the focus has been on developing varietals and styles to suit consumer tastes and different consumption occasions.

A strategic approach to innovation has led to new product launches that meet consumer trends in particular markets. Successful examples of new product development include:

  • Jammy Red Roo red blend, fruit flavoured Sangria created for the US consumer,
  • Yellow Tail Pure Bright, a lighter in calories and alcohol range and
  • the new to marketYellow Tail Whiskey Barrel, aged in Australian Whiskey barrels. 
Market diversification

WhenYellow Tail first launched, the focus was on achieving distribution in the US. As the market became quickly fragmented and cluttered with copycat brands, Mr Casella moved quickly to a global diversification strategy that has resulted in success in over 60 markets. 

The US now accounts for just over 50 per cent market share by volume, with the UK the second largest market and Australia the third.

Casella assert that the broad distribution strategy effectively protectedYellow Tail from the impact of the tariffs imposed by China, with the volume loss now recovered by rapid gains in other Asia Pacific markets such as Japan, Hong Kong and Korea.

Investing in new markets has been key as a new cohort of wine drinkers is increasingly exploring new varietals and styles. 

Brand investment

Ongoing marketing investment by Casella has ensured the brand remains relevant to both retailers and consumers alike. Mr Casella believes this approach has ensured the brand has been able to stand the test of time.

“It’s a matter of how we connect with our consumers around the world, and how well we work with our distributor partners, importers and retail customers, to maintain their enthusiasm for the brand,” he says.

Looking to the Future 

As a result of the chaos of 2020 -21, consumers expect more from the companies, brands, and products they support and want to feel they are making a difference through the brands they purchase and consume. Momentum behind this will only continue to build, and established brands likeYellow Tail need to play a role in these conversations in an authentic and genuine way. 

Mr Casella says, “The last 18 months have proven the appeal ofYellow Tail. As consumers turned to a familiar, known, and trusted wine brand,Yellow Tail experienced its highest ever volume of global sales recorded. To succeed in the next decade, we need to continually reinvigorateYellow Tail to remain relevant and meaningful to consumers.”

Casella Family Brands is paving the way for a more sustainable future with significant investment in both environmental and social factors already underway. A sustainability strategy is in development which will provide clear direction to the business for the next five years and beyond. This strategy will ensure the company focuses its efforts on initiatives that will help realise John Casella’s vision to contribute to the long-term sustainability and resilience of the Australian wine industry.

“We are fortunate to have a unique, strong, and powerful global wine brand. I’m very excited for the next chapter – there is still so much opportunity forYellow Tail, and I know we have the passion, the people, and the ability to ensureYellow Tail is the world’s most loved wine brand for years to come,” said Mr Casella.

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