As we move into the darker months, wine begins to offer greater upsell and sales opportunities. Wine can be a hugely profitable category for your venue if done right. We see a number of outlets that place little emphasis on wine, with staff that are intimidated about talking about it. This approach inevitably leads to lower wine sales, with those sales being of wines least profitable to the outlet. Being more vocal about wine will put more money in the till.
Here are five ways that we believe licensees can sell more wine, and importantly, more good wine!
Wine tasting events
We love a good wine evening! Who can blame us? A selection of dishes, with each course paired with a glass of wine. These evenings, run as either a one-off event or a regular date in the dairy, are a great opportunity to attract regular wine drinkers and show them you’re serious about your range. A number of our customers run wine evenings on a quarterly basis to match the seasons and get feedback on their new menu and the wine selection.
Beyond the wine connoisseurs, inviting your regulars along to a wine evening gives them a reason to venture out and a reason to keep coming back time and time again. It doesn’t have to be a full 5-course menu either, port and cheese nights are always a winner! The key is to get your customers, and potential customers, talking about good wine and your venue. You can have as few or many wines as you like. Your Matthew Clark account manager will be able to suggest and some wines and potential pairings for you.
Arranging by style
Research points to consumers preferring a wine list to be arranged by style. The research by MW Gérard Basset found customers want lists arranged by either type, taste or by food matching and felt that a list laid out geographically ‘indicated that the restaurant knew the least about wine’. Our Wine Expression classification system is an easy way to arrange your list in the way customers want to see it.
Wine Expression groups together similar wines. Customers always look for a risk-free purchase, but they will experiment if they are given some confidence they will like their choice; this has key commercial advantages. Wine revenues increase as customers focus first on how the wine tastes before price. Customers spend on a better wine as more of the list is now accessible to the consumer, not just the entry-level wines.
One of the key things our Customer Marketing team do with our customers is assess their wine pricing. Many outlets will apply a fixed GP (gross profit) margin across the entire wine list, this has the disadvantage of ramping up the sale price of better wines to the point that sales of these wines are considerably reduced. Whilst for every bottle sold you get a healthy cash return, many consumers don’t venture up the price ladder too high and have a ceiling price they are prepared to pay. The result is they stick around the bottom of the list.
Applying a fixed cash margin amount for a bottle regardless of price across the entire range addresses this but inflates the prices at the bottom of your list too much. We believe the best approach is a third way, a progressive pricing structure where the pricing ladder rungs are closer together and more top wines fall within the budget of more consumers. Yet, the outlet makes more cash when the better and more expensive wines are enjoyed by customers.
In this example, when a 60% fixed GP margin is applied across the wine list very few of wines 7 and 8 are sold. For the 100 bottles sold the total gross profit is £1,159.05. With a progressive pricing approach, sales are further spread across the range. The total cost of sales increases and the average GP margin drops to 56%, however, the total gross profit is £1,280.00, making this outlet an average of £1.20 per bottle.
Getting customers to explore
46% of consumers enjoy trying new and different styles of wine on a regular basis. Always look to find out what the customer is looking for and recommend a relevant wine. Focus on the benefit to the customer, why should they spend more? For a customer that enjoys a dry white, you may say something like, “would you like to try the Albarino, it will go great with your fish?”
Although it’s often done with real ale, few venues offer customers the chance to ‘try before you buy’ with wine. We think this is a missed opportunity. Offer customers a 25ml red or white sample either when seated for food or looking at the wine list at the bar. Inform them that it’s new in or a wine for the season and follow it up with “What do you think? Shall I get you a glass?”
Wine by the Glass
We’re big proponents of more outlets offering more wines by the glass. Wine by the glass’ presents a huge opportunity as customers continue to spend more money on quality and new experiences. Savvy operators are offering more wines by the glass, making aspirational wines more accessible. Check out our page on ‘Wine by the Glass’ to find out more!
Resource: Wine Training Guide
You can find more information about the wines we stock here. If you want to stock any of the wines mentioned, click here to place an order online now, or here to request an account with us; and don’t forget we’re here to support you with everything you need to ensure that your wine range is a success, from free menu design and print services to bespoke training.