The Challenges in Selling Wine Today and What You Can Do About Them

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Working in sales or marketing at a winery, you have one of the hardest jobs in the industry. 

Before Tastry there have been few tools to help you accomplish your primary goal: identify which consumers will love which wines. 

It is largely a trial-and-error process, and every time a consumer purchases a wine they don’t like, you risk losing that consumer forever. That said let’s discuss some of the challenges in selling wine today.

The Try-Before-You-Buy Model is Unscalable

Most wineries become initially successful in the tasting room. The tasting room provides an environment where the consumer can identify which wines they like with little monetary risk, and even that is offset by the positive experience every winery tries to provide. 

The tasting room model is successful because it provides a very simple proposition: help the consumer find wines they will love before they buy them.

Try-before-you-buy is a great model, but it’s largely unscalable into e-commerce or distributed retail. Once a winery desires or is forced to move outside the tasting room, the marketing team finds the environment much more challenging. 

Discounts Rarely Drive Repeat Customers

Commonly your team is forced to rely on discounts and consumer reviews to entice and convert new clients and purchase history to recommend repeat buys, but the return on investment for these methods pales compared to the tasting room experience.

Discounts can drive revenue, but reduced margins (or loss leaders) are only beneficial if they result in repeat purchases which requires that the consumer likes the product. Discounts can be a very expensive shot in the dark.

You need a solution to help you create repeat business. 

Why? 

It’s more cost effective to retain a current customer than it is to acquire a new one (in fact 7 times more expensive!) and the probability of selling to an existing customer is significantly higher. Research shows that you are 60-70% more likely to sell to an existing customer but only 5-20% to sell to a new customer.

Reviews Alone Provide Little Value

Consumer reviews can drive conversions if they are positive. That is largely a random process. Initial reviews might skew high or low, but in the long term they all suffer a reversion to the mean. That means for most products the final average score will be somewhere in the middle of the scale. 

For example, Cupcake Red Velvet may have 2,177 2-star or lower ratings and 1,650 5-star ratings resulting in an average score of 3.5-stars. For either of those populations, the 3.5 star rating is inaccurate. 

Some will hate that wine while others love it. In this situation consumer reviews provide little help.

Purchase History Doesn’t Always Tell the Whole Story

Purchase history may or may not indicate the wines someone likes. First, as much as 20% of wine sales are attributed to gift giving. Second, just because someone bought a wine does not mean they liked it. 

On the other hand, if a consumer has many purchases of the same wine over time, that is a better indication that they like it, but how long will you have to wait for that information? Your marketing team may have to wait for months or even years to get that data.

Beyond that, unlike other consumer products, the character of wine can and often does change year to year making time of-the-essence.

As wineries expand sales from the tasting room to online, marketing teams need to learn which consumers will like which products, and they need to learn quickly.

That’s why we created a powerful, easy to use, and affordable software solution geared to DTC wineries. 

Tastry Uncorked is a recommendation tool that identifies which consumers are most likely to love which wines before they try them and will help you develop and maintain the next level of hyper-personalized interaction (what we call a “singularized relationship”) with each consumer to drive wine sales. It’s an easy-to-implement solution that can plug into existing e-commerce experiences in 30-minutes or less. To learn more about it schedule a demo with Jeff here.

Matching consumers with the wines they are more likely to love is the best way to increase conversion, grow your customer base, and build longer term relationships.