I have heard two separate anecdotes about wine and its role in turning around struggling businesses this month, and there are lessons for any store managing challenges from both.
Super troubleshooter and new Co-op chief executive Richard Penncock said in an interview over the weekend most wine drinkers can’t tell the difference between one supermarket Argentinian Malbec and another. But when they are told that Co-op Fairtrade Malbec is helping build a school in La Riojana, they pick up that bottle over any other.
Interaction is far more important to your customers than the products they are buying
After turning around the fortunes of Laura Ashley, Welcome Break and Morrisons, this is one of his main strategies for bringing the convenience group back to health. “Just imagine if we had all of our 70,000 staff telling that story what that would do to the business,” he said.
It reminded me of a recent talk I attended from wine guru Ryan Opaz, whose blog ‘On wine, a tragedy’ won him plaudits from both the White House and Twitter founder Evan Williams.
The mistake the industry has made, he says, is overcomplicating wine, making it elitist and thinking consumers are desperately looking to find new wines. The opposite, in fact, is true: the industry is frantically looking for new consumers.
Consumers want relationships, life experiences and emotion and wine should be a part of this. Wine isn’t, itself, the occasion. Ryan told us how he turned around the fortunes of a struggling wine shop he managed early in his career. He grew sales every month for four years, not by lecturing customers, but by simply saying hello to everyone, interacting with them, treating them as individuals, then saying goodbye.
In both cases, it’s not actually about the wine. Interaction is far more important to your customers than the products they are buying.