by Juel Mahoney
They say there is a fine line between comedy and pain. If you work in the wine industry, and watch this video from Huffington Post, I bet your laughter is more strained than a rusty corkscrew in a crumbling cork:
You may laugh but 1 in 4 customers choose the second cheapest wine on a wine menu. Restaurants know this and often put their cheapest wine as their second cheapest wine to increase margin. Or flag up their house wine at the expense of the rest of their selection.
What is going on here?
Customers don’t like to be told what to drink. Even less, to look foolish. The truth is people hate asking and answering questions about what they like in a wine.
That’s the overwhelming feedback from over 25,000 people who have taken our Taste Test. People have told us they would rather find out about wine for themselves rather than be put on the spot. In fact, 96% of wine purchases across the UK wine industry are made without the help of staff. It appears most people would rather eat their own cutlery than ask about a wine.
So how can we break many consumers’ habits of a lifetime and stop the default ordering of that glass of cheap, poor value house wine or the so-called second cheapest wine?
Take the Awkward Out
Here are some ideas to help you get your customers beyond the awkward “second cheapest wine” moment, give your customers a better wine experience and have them coming back for more.
1. Try Before You Buy
What would happen if you hand back the keys to understanding wine? Enomatics do this very well by letting customer taste a sample before they buy. This is another way of creating smaller tasting samples, which gives customers the freedom to choose their wine based on their favourite samples without the “risk” of buying a full glass.
2. Come fly with us
Wine flights are a similar idea to smaller tasting sizes and enomatics. By offering a group of wines in smaller sizes all at once, customers can get a feel for new wines without incurring extra cost. For example, create a theme based on “New World Wonders” or “Back from Vacation Wines”. Not only does it encourage customers to decide beyond simply a price point, it is also fun. And gives you something to shout about.
3. Make Your Wine List Work Harder
If customers won’t ask questions, then a lot rides on your wine list. There are 3 proven and simple ways to tweak your wine list: with design, language and insights about your area and competition. A customer-friendly wine list, which is easy and fun to read rather than simply a perfunctory list, can prevent a customer’s knee-jerk reaction to point to the second on the list.
4. Real House Wines
Give customers a real alternative to the house wine. John Graves, Director of Sales at Bibendum, got on the soapbox recently for Imbibe Magazine, and wrote why he hates house wine. Instead of a generic house wine, he suggests choosing a wine that truly represents you and your business – a true ‘vins de la maison’.
But won’t a better wine than the house wine mean less gross profit? Yes and no, John says:
”In recommending ‘vins de la maison’, operators would have to throw the GP calculator in the bin – a bitter pill for many to swallow. Promoting more expensive wines as ‘house’ might mean that they see a lower percentage profit on every bottle sold.
It should, however, mean more cash in the till – and this is the crux of the issue. Selling your cheapest wines as the default option means you bank less money at the end of the night, and in the final reckoning, cash is always king. Happier customers who are spending more money are the holy grail of the hospitality industry. Let’s throw away the old idea of house wine for good, be proud to put a glass of red in front of people and say, ‘Drink this. I love it and think you will too.’”
How about you?
What did you think about this video? Which part of the video made you laugh the most? What has worked for you?
Look forward to hearing your stories.