One Blog |May 16, 2011 | POS Tracking Software

Wine Sampling and Wine Tasting - A New, ‘Old’ Marketing Approach

Mark Fullerton

It’s all about the wine . . . isn’t it?

Wine suppliers are naturally focused on producing the best wines they can. And wineries seem to have a good sense of how to create an attractive label and make their bottles say “pick me, pick me!”

Next, suppliers, to promote their brand, may try to line up beverage distributors assuming that wholesalers will do a great job of marketing and selling the supplier’s brand to their customers. A common supplier thought may be ‘the bigger the distributor the better’. Maybe, maybe not - You’ll have to share your experience with us. Our experience says, you can’t only count on the big distributors to make your wine a success. Some of the larger distributors carry more than 40,000 SKU’s. So adding your wine to an already long list may have little impact on your success.   

Your wine, unless it is an immediate hit, will require a steady stream of marketing dollars to keep a large distributor focused.  Simply bringing out another very good, or even great wine, without an accompanying advertising and promotion strategy is almost certainly a recipe for failure. So what’s the best way to entice consumers to buy it once; and then buy it again and again? 

Today, there are a few “old fashioned” methods to get your wines noticed. These methods, although not free, vary widely in costs.

What’s the most efficient and effective form of beverage advertising and promotion?

At one end of the marketing spectrum would be Media Advertising aimed at large audiences. This could take a truckload of money to produce. Unfortunately, today’s consumers are able to tune-out or by-pass most mass marketing advertisements with a simple press of the skip button on the DVR remote. It’s virtually impossible to efficiently and effectively market to such a large group.

At the other end of the spectrum would be a less expensive approach - Word-of-Mouth Marketing. One person finds something they like, or don’t like, and promptly tells another person, who tells another, and so on. If you can get a ‘few’ people to sample or taste your wine, there is an excellent chance they will tell their friends. In the days before there were national media outlets, one-to-one marketing was often the way new products became household names. Now, in the age of the Internet, we have an opportunity to couple old-fashioned (word-of-mouth) marketing with current technology (social networking).

Here’s how.

It All Starts with a Taste — A Sample of the Product

As a wine supplier you need to provide funding for product sampling. This means you need to offer your distributors generous sample allowances to encourage them to get retailers and consumers to sample or taste your products. Assuming your wine is well received, both retailers and individual shoppers will tell their friends, who will tell their friends. Coupled with social media technology like Facebook, Twitter and the other ‘one-to-many’ Internet communications, the impact of a sampling or tasting event could be beyond your comprehension.

The Best Approach for You

Rather than taking only the 'big distributor approach', with the associated marketing expenses, you may want to try another alternative. Take a look at getting your products represented by several smaller distributors and offer them sampling allowances that will ensure your wine is tasted by as many retailers and consumers as possible. This could create a ‘one-to-one-to-many-to-more’ marketing plan that provides you with the kind of sales lift you need, at costs you can afford.

But as a supplier, you want something more in return for providing funds to the distributors. Not just a list of charge backs. You need Market Intelligence! What was the sampling activity? What were the tasting comments? Did the retailer or consumer like it, and did they buy it?

As a distributor, you want to keep track of the customers and products you sample and correlate that event to sales results. If you keep track of what has been sampled and to whom, there will be yet another benefit — when you have turnover in the sales ranks, the new reps can easily know what customers have already sampled which wines, and not waste anyone’s time.

For more information on our wine sampling and tasting products visit: , or call 513-936-4037.

Mark Fullerton

Over 100 Beverage-Alcohol Distributors Trust OnTrak solutions.

OnTrak is a Proud Member of:
Wine & Spirits Wholesales of AmericaNational Beer Wholesalers Association Path to Purchase Institute

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