It’s a magical time of year for Washington wine. Wineries across Washington State are wrapping up on one of the earliest and hottest harvests in history, which means the 2015 vintage is likely to be a spectacular one. The longer growing season and the hotter, drier days produce wines that are more concentrated and complex – characteristics coveted by wine lovers everywhere. But what kind of impact does the wine itself really have on the purchase decision of the consumer? Not as much as you might think.
With more than 850 wineries, Washington State is the second largest producer of wine in the United States. In 2013, the wine industry contributed almost $5 billion to the state’s economy – a $1.3 billion increase from 2009. With all that growth, wine marketers everywhere are no doubt looking for the Holy Grail that will make their brand the chosen one in a vast sea of choices.
For years, the marketer’s toolkit has focused on the “4 P’s” – Price, Product, Promotion, and Place. But it turns out that marketing wine to consumers has become much more complicated – and emotional. According to the 2014 Gallo Consumer Wine Trends Survey, nearly 2/3 of wine drinkers selected a wine for its label – with emphasis on “younger consumers” (AKA Millennials). And while other studies have shown that both Millennials and older generations are concerned about how their choice of wine affects how people view them in a social setting, the “risk perceptions” – the chance of making a mistake in their wine choice – is much greater among Millennials.
What does all of this mean? It means that perhaps a fifth “P” should be added to the classic four – Perception. Now more than ever, how a product or brand makes you feel and how it makes others perceive you have become paramount to the purchasing process. Even the decision to make a wine purchase by label alone, which the majority of wine purchasers are now apparently using to inform their choice, is all about perception. It’s about how the label makes them feel – and how others will perceive it. Is it artsy? Cool? Expensive-looking? It all matters. And it has nothing to do with the product itself.
Loyalty marketers have long recognized that perception matters when it comes to getting consumers to consolidate their share of wallet with a specific brand or product. It’s all about understanding what makes those target consumers “tick” and tapping in the underlying emotional benefits that guide their purchase decision. With literally hundreds of choices facing them on the shelf, wine marketers should be sure to go beyond the “4 P’s” and ask Perception–oriented questions, too. How does the brand/the label/the price make the consumer feel? How does it impact their perception of themselves? How does it impact their view of how others perceive them? By getting to know what matters to their consumers on an emotional level and addressing it in the way they market, wine marketers everywhere will be helping turn that vast sea of wine choices into an easy decision that not only impact their bottom line, but also gives their consumers an emotional boost.
For more reading about how customer experience strategies can help long-term customer loyalty and retention, download our latest article on The Customer Loyalty – Customer Experience Connection.