Selling Luxury

In the past couple of blogs, we have talked about the different categories that wines may fall into and the pricing for those categories. Last week I wrote about the four categories of Premium wines. This week the topic is the highest categories, Luxury wines. The three categories are: Luxury – $50-100; Super Luxury – $100-200; and Icon – $200 plus. The basic definition of these wines is that they are great quality, handmade, exceptional in taste, and expensive.

That is the beginning of luxury. If you want people to buy your luxury wines, it is not good enough that the wines are exceptional, it is the whole experience. Start with your website and follow through with the way guests are treated in person, on the phone, via email and at every point of contact by every person in your company. The look of the winery is also important to many visitors, everything needs to be clean, tidy and promote a feeling of luxury.

The guests and customers who buy these wines do so for a lot of different reasons, but much of it has to do with connection and the feeling that they are making a significant purchase that will enhance their lives and possibly their reputation as connoisseurs of wine. The interactions need to be memorable and out of the ordinary.

Some of these customers are looking for wines that may be traditional, with the luxury of the brand easily identifiable in the story of the wine, the winery, the owners, and the winemaker. Others are willing to spend top dollar on wines that are innovative and present new ideas of how quality is perceived. It could be that some of your customers are looking for wines that will signal their sophistication or have relevance to their lives.

We also have to remember that luxury products, especially wines, are not things that buyers actually need (no matter what we would like to think), they are the products that they want. When we are selling wine, we are selling to customers wants because the wine will do something to make their life or view of themselves better in some way. And to get that feeling they are willing to pay for luxury.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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What Does Selling Premium Wine Mean?

Last week’s blog talked about the different categories that wine may fall into both by price and quality. The next few blogs are going to focus on what it takes to produce higher price, higher quality wines.

Today we are going to talk about the Premium wines, which encompasses four categories; Popular Premium, Premium, Super Premium and Ultra Premium. These wines range in price from $10-15 for Popular Premium, up to  $30-40 for Ultra Premium. However, each of these categories uses the word Premium One of the definitions of the word Premium is “of exceptionally quality,” so if you talk about selling premium wines, your customers are expecting quality products. Your job is to give them quality.

Within your winery you may have wines that fall into two or three of the premium price categories, with a lighter white or rosé being less expensive than a more robust, barrel aged red. So differentiation between the wines and the reasons for pricing them as you do is important, as customers may not know why some wines are more expensive or less expensive than others. Be ready to explain those differences.

In this broader category of Premium wines, you may also deal with a variety of customer types. Customers may be looking for very different things. Some may be looking for bargains (a good yet inexpensive wine), others are looking to pay more for something that will impress their friends, while others believe that in order to get a “premium” wine, they have to pay a certain price.  Just like your wines, all your customers are different, so as with all customer interactions it’s important to find out their individual wants, needsand desires. This will help you create a place in their memories for your wines and winery.

Another consideration is (of course) customer service. The higher price your wines, the greater the expectations of your customers for a good experience during their visit, especially if you charge for tasting, as most wineries do these days. Attention to the customer and to the details of the experience should be high on your list when you are selling Premium wines.

Next week we”ll talk about Luxury wines.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Placing Wines by Category and Price

It used to be that there were two or three wine price categories. The three were low priced wines, medium priced wines, and high priced wines. That doesn’t seem to be the case these days. I was reading an article by Wine Folly and they show a chart of the different wine categories and their pricing.

  • Extreme Value wines, average cost $4.00, this category is made up of bulk wine.
  • Value wine, average cost, $4-$10, described as “Basic quality bulk wines from large regions and producers.”
  • Popular Premium wines, average cost $10-$15, “Large production, decent varietal wines and blends.
  • Premium, $14-$20, “Good, solid quality wines.
  • Super Premium $20-$30, “Great, handmade wines from medium-large production wineries.”
  • Ultra Premium, $30-$40, “Great quality, handmade, excellent-tasting wines from small to large producers”
  • Luxury, $50-$100, “Excellent wines from wine regions made by near-top producers.”
  • Super Luxury, $100-$200, “Wines from top producers from microsites.”
  • Icon, $200+, “The pinnacle of wines, wineries, and microsites.”

So where do your wines fall on this chart both in the category and in the price? Do you find that your wine belongs in one category but that category is not reflected in the price you charge for it? Or are you charging more for a wine that actually belongs in a lower category? Usually, that is hard to say, as it can be difficult to judge your own wines.

Wine may taste different to a variety of customers depending on what they like, how much they enjoy wine and what they are looking for. Also depending on the customer. More expensive wines may taste better to some people just because they are more expensive and their expectations are that more expensive wines taste better. The location of your winery may also have something to do with the prices you can charge or the categories you fall into.

Over the next few blogs, we are going to look into what it takes to move into the higher categories and prices in the wine world. And what it takes to move up to the Ultra Premium or Luxury categories or even higher. Take some time to think about where your wines are.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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It’s Not Only What But When

Engagement with customers is not only about what you tell them, it is also about when. If you want customers’ visits to your winery to be remembered, when you give your customers information is as important as the information you give them.

The other day I had an email from a winery asking me a couple of questions. The first was when a customer asks you, “What is your favorite wine?” what do you tell them. My answer is that it is more important not to tell them too early in their visit. As you want them to make up their own minds.

  1. If you have an absolute favorite wine, they may (if they are not wine savvy) be influenced by what you think.
  2. Telling them too early may stop them from choosing something else that they actually like more because you are “the expert.”
  3. It may stop them from buying other wines on your list because they think they may not be as good.
  4. Their tastes may be quite different from yours.

Before you give a customer any information on your preferred wine, ask them to taste the wines, decide what they like best and tell you their favorite. After they have told you what they liked the best of the wines they have tasted, you can praise their palate, tell them what a great wine it is; then tell them your favorite. Followed quickly by a quick couple of sentences about why the wine they chose is an excellent wine. (Assuming, of course, that the wines you make or sell are excellent).

Knowing what the customer likes allows you to give them more information and recommend food that pairs well with the wine. This gives novice wine drinkers more confidence in their own abilities to understand good wine and seasoned wine drinkers to tell you what they enjoy pairing with that particular wine.

Another question I am asked to answer for clients is what do you do when someone asks which one is your best wine. Again, before you answer the question find out what they like. Sometimes I visit wineries and notice that I am told the most expensive wine on the list. That is fine as long as you have asked some questions and know that your guests would be comfortable paying that price for a bottle of wine. If they are not, you lose the opportunity to present the wines that are closer to their price range and there goes the sale.

Ask questions, get information and then make the recommendations.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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A Simple Way to Boost Sales

Not everyone who is ever going to purchase from your business will do so the first time they come into contact with you. Yet most of the time, businesses let these possible customers slip through their fingers and into the database of one of their competitors.

So many businesses miss the very simple step that leads to increased sales and loyal customers… ask for contact information when a consumer who is not on your list, comes into your business. Do as much as you can to get not only an email address but a street address and phone number as well.

While it may be easier to get an email address, it is also easier for people who receive your emails to delete them without reading them. When you open your email every day how many emails do you delete without reading them? If your email inbox is anything like mine, the first time I open it each day I can find up to 50 or 60 emails that I go through and delete. This is after I spent an entire day a couple of weeks ago unsubscribing to things I never asked to receive.

Emails are a handy, and inexpensive way of reaching people, but most businesses, when they send emails do not check the open rate, click-through rate or purchase rate that the emails generated.  According to HubSpot the overall average open rate across all industries is 32%. That means if you send out an email to 1,500 people, 480 of those recipients actually opened it.  The average click-through rates are anywhere from 3 -6 (14.4 to 28.8 people) and a small percentage of those will actually buy.

You never know when a postcard or other missive through the post or a phone call combined with an email campaign may bring more interest and more attention to your business and your products.

But whatever you decide to do, start collecting information on everyone who comes into your business. You may not have sold the visitor something the first time s/he comes into your business but if you don’t know how to contact them, you never will.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Creating Brand Loyalty

I came across an article in Marketing Profs today by John Miller, the title of which caught my eye, “ Brand Love is Bull****…So Now What Do We do? Five Things.”

While I don’t agree with his premise, I do agree with some of his ideas. I believe that consumers do get to love or be attached to a particular brand. I know because I am attached to brands. I can think of two brands that I have no intention of changing now or in the future.

The first is (not surprisingly) Apple. Every computer I have had has been an Apple, as have my phones, tablets, and music system. If I am looking for anything in that area, I first make sure that Apple does not have a product before I start researching other brands.

The second product that I am not likely to change any time soon is the granola I eat for breakfast most days. “Not Yer Momma’s Granola” is made locally by a group of women who used to make it for their children and decided to create a business around it. It is terrific.

In both cases, I have found the products to be reliable and good value. Even more importantly, when I have had a problem with either product, the companies have helped me in finding solutions. The people on the phone have been helpful and friendly and treat me as if I am important to them.

I don’t believe that every person who walks into your business is going to fall in love with your brand or products. However, there are those that will and they are worth their weight in gold. They may not buy the most from you, but they will talk about your product to others and encourage them to buy. They will provide important word-of-mouth promotion to many others who may not know about you.

Mr. Miller does offer some good advice and tells us to keep promoting always, don’t rely on campaigns that have specific start and finish dates. He also reminds us not to be pushy. It is good to promote your products but easy to turn people off if you make people feel uncomfortable with your techniques.

So, create a great product, treat people well and when they have a problem (whether or not you think it is valid) be helpful and find a solution.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Don’t Believe Everything You Think

Lately, as I started some new projects, I have been thinking about whether or not I believe these projects are viable because I want them to be or if I am just deluding myself and they don’t have the merit that I think they have.

It is typical of the human brain to validate the ideas that we have. When we want to start a new endeavor our brains are more likely to direct us to information that will confirm what we believe or want to believe rather than give us the facts.

For example, in a town nearby to where I live there is one corner that has, in the time I have been paying attention, had five different Mexican restaurants in that location. I am not saying that starting a Mexican restaurant may not be a good idea (I love Mexican food). I am just saying that perhaps that particular corner is not where you want to open your restaurant. If it hasn’t worked five times, there is a good chance it won’t work a sixth.

More than likely, a sixth Mexican restaurant will go into that space because we tend to pay less attention to things that do not fit with what we have already decided. We bias our brain towards confirming what we already want to believe.

I was listening to a well-known author speaking the other day and he said that “Ego defends us against new information from the world.” As soon as we get our ego involved and are bought into believing something, it is very difficult for us to understand that whatever we want to do might not be a good idea.

Another reason why this is likely is that we tend to surround ourselves with people who think similarly to the way we do and therefore will also confirm our bias.

Before I go forward with my new ideas I am going to seek out a few people I know who tend to have different opinions to the ones I hold and ask them how they feel about my new projects. Chances are I will still go ahead with them, but I will probably be more aware of possible problems I may encounter.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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