Once in a while I feel the need to systematically take apart arguments from folks who sound like they know the wine business, but are unfortunately not as clued in as they sound. One such instance is this article/post from Wines and Vines about wine losing on-premise sales. The same goes for guys who write about wine and just write about “what the guy said”, without doing extra research. The article is just as bad as the guy they picked to interview and this is a respected outlet for all things wine. Presenting reasons why and delving a little more into the subject would have achieved a greater purpose.
Let me preface this for all those who don’t know me: I have over 25 years experience in the wine business. As the President or Rad Grapes, I choose, import, distribute and sell wine daily on the road. I see what goes on, like an old fashioned analyst, since I am in and out of wine shops and restaurants 4 days per week for the last 25 years. That helps me stay ahead of the trend. You want to reach Millenials and their wine tastes? Buying wines from large liquor distributors in certainly not the right answer now, is it? Wine sales keep going up, except at corporate on-premise restaurants? It’s because you guys are doing it all wrong from the start. Beer labels, wine labels, are out. People want authenticity. Very few mass produced products have authenticity – unless it’s made by Apple…Unique takes extra work and knowledge.
“The Millenial drinkers wineries seemed confident of winning, are not playing the game right…” ummm. no dude. These wineries that seemed confident “manufacture wine” thinking they know what the Millenials or cinsumers want. Millenials want real wines; natural wines from small artisanal producers, now juts another fucking label invented “for millenials” by Bronco or Gallo or one of the other behemoths. the problem facing these large wine manufacturing operations is that Millenials, thanks to their iphones and mobile web have figured out that 80% of the “labels” in the market are produced by 5 companies and are available for a few bucks right down the block from your nearest corporate dining hall. The jig is up…beyond the fact that artisanal beer and spirits have it figured out and have certainly stolen market share from the behemoth wine producers (see my earlier post about mass produced crap)…Millenials want authentic products they can relate to, not another label created by some graphics design guy and produced by a wine company (notice I did not say winery) that already has 110 other labels in the market…they are labels, not real wine.
Sandy Block, the executive in charge of Legal Seafoods beverage program is right about one thing, that people going out want to be entertained. We don’t just go out for a good meal and a drink, but want to be serviced and enjoy it all in a pleasant atmosphere. We all want a real experience. Drinking the same crap your neighbor servers at his BBQ that he bought at Walmart is not what we want to drink going out to dinner. As for why Legal Seafood wine sales are down though, he is unfortunately utterly clueless. I doubt Mr. Block will ever read this blog, but I am going to explain to him why his wine sales are down, and it’s not because customers prefer beer and cocktails. ‘Patrons want to be perceived as drinking something hip.” Really dude? Jesus…Yeah they want tattooed guys shacking cocktails?! Wow…it’s like treating the symptom instead of the disease. The disease is the fact that the wine selection at Legal Seafood is run-of-the-mill at best. They give the wine business to the guys from Southern that sell them all that booze. If your craft beer selection is selling so well, along with the craft liquors, dude – how about trying some craft wines!?
Let me clue you guys in…a few of the comments below this post from Wines and Vines actually give us a great clue as to why on-premise sales for the corporate restaurants are going down. I, just like a few of the winemakers that commented on the original post opt for a beer or let’s say scotch when at a restaurant that has a crappy, commercial grade, over priced, mass produced wine list. then again, because I know I cannot get good wine, which I really enjoy with a good meal at these corporate restaurants, I AVOID them. Read that again…the vast majority of corporate outfits do not put any effort what so ever into their wine selections. Real wine drinkers are turned off and consume something else. Overpriced crap – that anyone can Google on their iphone – because it’s for sale everywhere, including you liquor discounter down the road, that has it for $7.99 bottle, while Legal Seafood is trying to get away with charging you $10 a glass for the garbage. Duh…
You cannot hoodwink consumers, the jig is up and “restaurant executives” like Mr. Block are in all honesty, somewhat clueless! If they included good, quality, artisanal wines in their wine programs, even the likes of Red Robin, Houlihans and Legal Seafood would see much better sales. The unfortunate factor is that all these corporate dining outfits want corporate products that are easy to replicate and proliferate. The problem is that when you’re trying to offer customers “a unique dining and entertainment experience” and you serve run-of-the-mill-crap…you loose. Millenials certainly don’t want that and neither do I ( Gen X). Consumers have been very educated and cannot be coned, which is exactly what trying to sell the the overpriced, mass produced wine really comes down to. They are not buying it! Today consumers want “something different” and that ain’t happening with their current wine selection.
Look, this is the reason I got into the business. The reason Rad Grapes exists is to provide the perfect alternative to the mass produced, mass marketed crap that the average winery that thought the had Millenials figured out with that latest cute Moscato label. We have wines from real wineries, made by real winemakers, coming from real artisanal vineyards. That is not possible for wines made in large amounts – just like the difference between artisanal cheese and something like Kraft American slices. There is a world of difference in taste and authenticity. People prefer the real stuff, any day you offer it…
I would be happy to offer my consulting services to Legal Seafood and anyone else who would like to turn their wine program into something more cutting edge and profitable than it is now. If you want to appeal to adapting consumer tastes and Millenials? Asking someone with real expertise in the matter may be a good place to start. Cheers!
Copyright © Wines & Vines
Copyright © Wines & Vines
Copyright © Wines & Vines