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The #1 Wine of the Year

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expert-editorialToday my friends, the Wine Spectator, the industry leader in wine reporting, announced the #1 wine of the year. This was a long drawn out process that started with #10 and slowly crawled to #1, and now the consuming public begins the chase towards that purchase. This process first began in the early 90’s I believe, and while CEO of Sam’s I remember countless shoppers coming in with the list and purchasing hopes.

The Spectator and Enthusiast, both magazines that have named me Retail of the Year, a record three times, created drama and demand around this list, and retailers, suppliers, and the wines themselves all benefit from the artificial lift that the buzz creates. I am not writing today to negate the idea, and I am not writing today to say it does not matter, or it is not an honor to be on the list or in the Top 10. It absolutely is, and the brand awareness that can be created it financially very bankable.

I am here to say that this is 2014, nearly 2015, and we live in a consumer driven web based culture now. The times of one single medium or one authority driving sales patterns are gone. There is a reason why Oprah’s Favorite things segment is now Oprah’s Readers Choice. There is a reason why YELP, Amazon reviews, and View Points all are sites with multimillion views (UV) a month. Consumers can drive sales more than ever now. This is what we call our Bottom Up Methodology. This is what our firm champions.

Now more than ever consumers can make the market on wine, craft beer, and spirit sales. Review and ratings sites that make and take the consumers input, and put it front and center are the ones that can really drive traffic. That is the whole idea behind Facebook “likes”. I will buy, wear, drink what my “friends” are liking.

I worked with an importer in NYC that was having trouble selling their brands into distribution and retail. I suggested engaging the consumer first and then creating the buzz ahead of the buzz, meaning engaging the consumer will drive more sales then engaging the distributor. When the consumer asks for a brand at retail, the retailer is more likely to buy multiple cases. When the sales person sells into the retail channel, the average new brand purchase is one case. This is creating demand from the bottom up. This is exactly why Gary Vaynerchuk, a peer and friend, is amazingly successful. His “fans” put him there, he was not self anointed.

If you look at the national success of the brands Pappy Van Winkle and Goose Island Bourbon Stout, they are driven by the shoppers’s self-created social buzz around their release. All the marketing is about the release and not so much about the product itself. This is a perfect example of the consumer driving the sales from the bottom and creating an uber successful release.

When I look at the end of year lists that come all the time in the Fourth Quarter, I look at who is driving the demand and controlling the supply. When the demand is driven by the consumer, the sell through is much higher. When the demand is driven from the top, there is a 21% decrease in depletions from the retailer channel.

Let’s take back our #1 wine of the year, and let the consumers vote and choose who the winners are, because at the end of the day, the voter will also be the shopper.

Brian RosenExpert Editorial
by Brian RosenRosen Retail Method

Rosen Retail for Alcohol Beverage offers support to retailers and suppliers alike, having created Supplier Boot Camp and Retailer Boot Camp and other award-winning programs that increase gross margin for retailers and cases sold for suppliers. Brian Rosen can be reached at [email protected] or twitter @rosenretail.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. A great idea, and we can also start with:
    “the Wine Spectator, the industry leader in wine reporting”

    well, perhaps if you are a Baby Boomer. Millennials couldn’t give a hoot.

  2. Magazines and professional wine critics remain the most influential wine media in the world. Millennials won’t age into fine wine consumption for another 10-20 years. I guess I don’t give a hoot if they don’t read the best information because they are drinking Yellow Tail and Charles Shaw and whatever else is out there for under $10. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad millennials are drinking wine. It’s worth noting that not too many of them have 500-bottle wine cellars in their apartments and homes. Those people read the wine magazines. The consumer-driven digital is the two-buck-chuck of wine media.

  3. Not sure where you are getting your data from but its not reflected by research data, sales data, nor my experience in pouring and selling wine.

    I often see more wealthy baby boomers drinking Two Buck Chuck and 20 somethings plopping down $35 for a small lot.

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