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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In the “Tasting Room”

Most wineries call their customer space the “Tasting Room” for the very good reason that wine tasting does take place there and it’s usually a room. I was giving some thought the other day to all the things that go on (or should go on) in the tasting room. By incorporating the different things you should be doing in the space, you can improve your abilities to tighten your relationship with visitors, which lead to better relationships and long-term sales.

For example, in addition to being a tasting room, consider this area a networking space, a connection location, an education spot or an engagement hub. Tasting is one thing that happens, but by incorporating connection things right you are creating the bonds that will encourage visitors to return, to become regular customers and many times friends.

By thinking of the place as only the “tasting room”, you could be missing the most important elements that turn first-time visitors into long-term customers. Many people who visit your “tasting room” are going to be more excited if they look back on the experience as a small adventure. It should be a place where they gained awareness, information and understanding of wine in general and your wine in particular. And, if they leave believing they have made a connection, they are much more likely to return.

In this multi-purpose visitor center, you can create relationships that may last for half an hour, or may last for years. How you feel about the space and how it can best be put to use will determine which way the relationships go and how long they will last.

So make connections with people, find out the things you have in common and look forward to enjoying the short time you have with each individual guest or group. You may find that your visitors are the most fascinating creatures if you learn a little about them, allow them to learn a little about you, and what you have in common with them.  You never know the people you meet in the “tasting room” may enrich your life too.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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What You See May Not Be What You Get

I was checking my emails the other day and came across an email from LinkedIn with a
request ostensibly from a woman in New York State wanting to connect with me on
LinkedIn.

I have a rule about connecting on social media. I never connect with anyone on any site
until I have checked his/her profile. The interesting thing, when I checked this profile,
the woman said she had been working for a company (local to me in California) since
2017. I am closely associated with this company and know all their employees. I had
never heard of her. So I gave the company a call. They had also received connection
requests from the same person but no one had heard of her either.

The company had called and emailed LinkedIn and had been told that there was nothing
that LinkedIn could do about that. I got a confirmation on that from Kerry Rego, a
consultant on social media. She agreed that there is nothing that can be done through
LinkedIn, although suggested that I send them an email anyway. Perhaps if they get
enough complaints they will consider a change in policy.

Kerry did suggest that if companies are hiring and use social media to check on positions
an applicant has held in the past, they call the companies listed to make sure that the
information is accurate.

I further checked the name and location of the woman who (supposedly) contacted me
and could not find any information on her at all on the internet, except for a Facebook
page that has extremely limited information and no followers. So my guess is, she does
not exist.

It may be nothing important but it has made me more carefully scrutinize the things that
people say on social media pages as it seems that you can put anything on those pages
without being responsible for it being accurate. In which case I am thinking about
adding to my social media pages that I have an IQ that is 10 points higher than Albert
Einstein’s (no, really).

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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