Bottle It Up: Evolution of Selling Wine

WE Communications Blog: Consumer

— Lauren Palmer 

Buying wine is often a gamble. Will you savor every sip or dump it down the drain? There’s no way to know until you pop that cork (with careful aim, of course).

There’s nothing like the satisfaction of finding and sharing a bottle you love.

For some, the label and the price are enough to influence a purchase, but most need more for the bottle to make the cut.

How are consumers making these decisions when bombarded with labels, and how do brands stand out from every other red, white and rosé?

It’s the story.

You see, the story is just as important, if not more, than what’s in the bottle

Today’s wine drinkers don’t want to just drink a bottle of wine, they want to know it intimately. They want to share a glass and their knowledge with friends. And it’s incumbent upon brands to help them take that journey.

From the history of the vineyard to the reason the winemaker loves a specific grape, consumers demand knowledge. Online publications that focus on educating about all things wine are popping up regularly. Sommelier certification is on the rise. And as evidenced by the rise of documentaries like SOMM and Uncorked, people are fascinated by the complexity of wine.

But that’s not enough. Consumers want something new, different and interesting

To combat consumers’ overwhelming array of choices, brands are innovating and spending more on labels and packaging to stand out.

Studies say 38 percent of Americans buy wine based on the appeal and design of the labels. Which means brands are creating flashy, clever labels to compete. Unconventional packaging (think cans, single servings and the resurgence of boxed wine) are increasingly popular.

Wine drinkers want personal recommendations

Studies show that everyone from boomers to Gen X and millennials are going online to research their next wine purchase. And they aren’t just reading the traditional wine critics’ scores.

They want recommendations from family and friends on social channels or recommendations from their favorite wine-tracking app.

Apps like Vivino, Delectable and Hello Vino make it easier for consumers to quickly find information on a specific bottle. A quick scan of the label and consumer reviews are instantly available.

People understand their unique palates

Along with wine education comes an understanding of one’s own palate. Consumers aren’t as focused on that 90-plus score from a critic because they know their preferences may be different.

This has led to customized wine clubs. Forget the winery-specific wine clubs, where people find a winery they like and sign up to receive regular shipments. Wine drinkers want variety and personal customization. Enter wine club 2.0. These mainly online clubs curate a selection that matches each individual’s preferences, based on a quiz or a sampling of wine they tasted.

So what can brands do to combat these changes in the industry?

  1. Tell the brand’s story: Wine drinkers want to know who, what, where, when and why. Tell them why they should care about a specific bottle and give them the narrative to share when the bottle is uncorked.
  1. It’s not enough to get great acclaim: Scores and acclaim are still valuable, but brands shouldn’t solely rely on their 90-point scores. Find ways to connect with consumers at point of sale or online.
  1. Meet consumers where they are — mobile and online: Take advantage of social media and other digital tools, including wine tracking apps. Many wine drinkers rely on a quick social or app search in the wine aisle to find details about a bottle.

With the growth of the wine industry and new labels appearing daily, relying on what’s in the bottle is no longer enough to stand out in the minds of customers. Brands must find ways to connect with consumers and share the passion that went into creating that bottle to create a relationship and propel sales forward.


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