Monday, April 6, 2015

Rant: 38 Seconds Of Wine

Thirty-eight seconds.

It's not even a full minute. It's a brief span of time, especially to make an informed decision. However, 38 seconds is the amount of time the average person spends to select a wine at a store. With that little amount of time, many consumers are choosing wines based on labels or shelf talkers with points, Or they are choosing the same wine all the time, maybe that bottle of Yellow Tail or Barefoot, ignoring all other wines.

How do we get people to spend more time deciding which wine to buy? How do we get them to choose a wine for reasons other than the animal on the label or a score of 90 points? How do we get them to expand their palate and try something new, rather than the same old wine they buy every week?

Online and print wine articles help to a degree, though such matters appeal more to the more passionate wine lover rather than the average wine consumer. We must understand that these average consumers want the wine buying process to be simple and quick. They may be open to experimentation, to choosing something different, but they need a boost to their motivation. They need a sufficient reason to spend a little more time in their wine buying.

It is the staff of a wine store who are in the best position to intervene with these average consumers, to get them to change their usual buying pattern.

First, a wine store needs a welcoming staff, who inquire whether their customers need assistance or not, They can lead consumers to different wines than what they might have chosen on their own in those 38 seconds. That staff can lead those consumers to expand their palates and buy wines they might never have bought on their own. They can also get them to buy wines for reasons other than labels and points. However, the staff cannot be too intrusive or pushy. They can't act like stereotypical car salesmen but rather must be more facilitators, offering their advice and suggestions if such assistance is desired.

Many of these customers wouldn't ask for assistance on their own. They would just go about their business as usual. However, if they were approached in the right way, with an offer of help that doesn't seem pushy, these customers might then take advantage of the offer and seek assistance in selecting wine. And if the offer of assistance is refused, the staff needs to be polite and walk away rather than remain and pressure the customer to accept their help.

Second, a wine store that holds regular tastings can keep those average consumers in the store longer than 38 seconds. It is hard for many consumers to resist passing by the tasting table,and not sampling something, When these consumers taste those wines, they open their palates to something new, to wines they might not have otherwise selected. If they enjoy the taste of those wines, they may even be motivated to buy those wines. A fair number of people will purchase wines they got to sample, when they might not have otherwise selected those wines on their own.

Third, there are a number of other measures that wine stores can take to affect the buying habits of their customers. The first two measures I mentioned are the most significant, but other actions can have an effect as well. From personal shelf talkers to weekly newsletters, wine stores can do plenty to reach out to their customers, making it easier for them to select wine, yet still breaking out of that 38 second average.

Let's elevate the knowledge and passion of the American wine consumer, person by person.

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