Are the costs of wine competition stickers fair?

Last week I posted a few thoughts about the role of wine competitions. Subsequently, I saw that Neil Pendock made mention of the costs of purchasing the familiar blingy stickers that adorn winning bottles of wine. These are familiar adornments, created by all competitions in an attempt to shout out to consumers from the wine shelves. Many wineries add them to their winning bottles and it seems that the competitions are making a tidy margin on the stickers.

The prices that are quoted on his site are to order from the competitions themselves (many state clearly in the rules that producers may not reproduce the stickers themselves – with good reason) and are per 1000 stickers. They include:

SA Top 100 Wines: R300 plus VAT
Veritas Double Gold: R420 plus VAT
Veritas Silver: R170 plus VAT

In addition, this information was available on these competition sites:

International Wine & Spirit Competition: £55 per 1000 plus £5.50 per 1000 for delivery outside of Europe
– Medal artwork is available to download free from the IWSC website

International Wine Challenge: £38 per 1000 (currently on promo to £22.80)
– Medal artwork is available to be sent to you at a cost of £50

Concours Mondial de Bruxelles: The link to the sticker order form including the prices is broken but there is a page where you can request permission to reproduce the logos with some costs involved:

  • Less than 20 000 replicas: 12 € per 1000 replicas
  • Between 20 000 and 150 000 replicas: 9 € per 1000 replicas
  • If more than 150 000 replicas: All inclusive price of 1200 €

I thought I would asked for a quick quote from one of the most popular South African printers, simply out of interest. I asked for a quote on a 3cm diameter (larger than most stickers) round sticker, printed in up to three colours, including a metallic ink and a gloss varnish. I asked for a quote on 250 000 stickers, which in the case of a competition would be well less than the total order, I would think.

Cost per thousand?

R22 ex VAT. (about € 2.30)

Even if one were to include the cost of the designer to set up the sticker for you (although most competitions simply re-print each year), and perhaps if a competition has a particular substrate of choice, the cost discrepancy is rather startling.

I am not saying that the competition should be giving the stickers away. As I mentioned in my previous post, these competitions are businesses, not charities. The time involved and the logistics of getting them printed does add some cost.

But with there being fairly little else that conveys the results of a wine competition for the producer, those that choose the competition route rely on the gaudy gongs to get the message across. The fact that a competition is making that sort of money off of the stickers leaves a bit of a sour taste, don’t you think?

Please feel free to leave you comments below. I would like to hear what you think.

2 Responses to “Are the costs of wine competition stickers fair?”

  1. Chris Ashton says:

    The IWC does have a standard price of £38.00 per roll Including UK VAT at 20% and that includes shipping to wherever you are in the world. There are significant discounts available for volume sales.

    So of we take your quote of 250 000 stickers the rate would be £22.80 per roll. No extra costs.

    The IWC stickers are printed using a ‘hot metal’ process so the stickers are more reflective when stuck on the bottle, and therefore ‘work’ better on retail shelves. The addition of an IWC sticker on a bottle does help retail purchase and in many cases retailers are requesting to have IWC stickers on bottles.

    Also the vast majority of sticker sales are sold to smaller producers who only want a few rolls. This is very cost effective against producing your own labels. The larger producers do use our graphics and print their own labels and add this on to their bottling run. We would be delighted if they used their own printers to do this, given our production and brand reproduction guidelines.

    We do alert as many people as we can via our website, iPhone app, The World’s best wine book with all the award winners listed. But ultimately it is up to each winery to promote their success by the ultimate third party endorsement of their product.

    Chris Ashton
    IWC Event Director

  2. Chris says:

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks so much for your response. It’s always good to have as clear a picture as possible! What I was implying with the quote of 250 000 is that the competition pays a low rate to the printer as they would order a large quantity and then send them out in smaller batches.