In a 2015 Sonoma State University study, American Consumer Wine Preferences, authors Dr. Liz Thatch and Dr. Kathryn Chang found that price is the number one decision making factor when consumers purchase wine. No big surprise here, especially with the plethora of wines and deals available. Brand came in second at 67%. Again, not surprising since people want to trust what they buy in an ocean of choices.
What is particularly interesting to me is the big gap between price, brand and the next factors: variety and country, which came in at 36% and 35%, respectively. Appellation was a mere 20%. Brand trumps grape and place by two to three times.
The authors conclude with eight recommendations for marketers regarding selecting wine styles, focusing marketing messages on relaxation and social benefit, providing online information, achieving sales placements, promoting via regional organizations and facilitating online sales.
We agree with the recommendations and go one step further: following these steps doesn't do much good if few people have heard of your winery. In addition to marketing messages that highlight the joy of the experience, you want to share your story, both in written and visual form to entice and support the other aspects of the brand such as name and packaging. (It's quite possible that the study authors didn't include a story recommendation because it's such a basic aspect of wine marketing. Unfortunately, our experience shows that stories are often incomplete or missing entirely.)
Forming relationships with media is a terrific way to accomplish recognition for your winery and build your brand equity. In doing so, you harness the value of third party endorsement, which can be shared and turned into sales and marketing opportunity. We respectfully offer suggestion number nine.
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