This month we’re talking about what it really means to be a challenger brand. Sure, you could argue that every brand except the category leader is a challenger. By definition, that’s technically true. But challenger brands are defined by much more than market position. It’s the way they think about their position and what they do about it that makes them true challenger brands. We’ll start our discussion with one of our favorite examples.
The Story of Two Buck Chuck
At the 2007 California State Fair wine competition, the Charles Shaw Chardonnay, affectionately known to Californians as “Two Buck Chuck” because of its $1.99 price tag, took the top prize, beating out 350 other Chardonnays from all over California. Second place went to a lovely $18 bottle of wine from Napa Valley, while the most expensive Chardonnays in the competition — bottles that topped out around $55 — didn’t even place.
It was a feather in the cap of one of America’s most cost-conscious winemakers, but not the first and certainly not a fluke. Even before the 2005 Chardonnay was named “Best of California” and “Best of Show” at the 2007 fair with a score of 98 and a double Gold Medal, the Charles Shaw Shiraz bested 2,300 other wines at the 2002 International Eastern Wine Competition. That win was nice. But winning in California? That shook the foundation.
The wine competition at the California State Fair is billed as “the oldest, most prestigious wine competition in North America.” Established in 1855, it’s the place where wineries have their carefully crafted pedigrees validated, or refuted.