Build wine sales with proven, cost-effective strategies Fri, 11 Dec 2009 19:55:17 +0000 en hourly 1 WineCircle Consulting in the news Fri, 11 Dec 2009 19:53:30 +0000 Bill Gram-Reefer WineCircleSF Business Journal

The Bay Area wine industry may have a glut of grapes, but it apparently doesn’t have a glut of wine consultants.

To capitalize on the relatively open field, Peter Grossman, a former senior executive at Beverages & More and a serial entrepreneur joined forces last year to create a Walnut Creek-based wine industry consulting firm.

SF Business Times logoSee coverage of WineCircle Consulting in the October 23 edition of the San Francisco Business Journal. Photo courtesy Spencer Brown

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Cornell Study Sheds Light on Factors Impacting Wine Sales in Restaurants Thu, 13 Aug 2009 19:13:55 +0000 Peter Grossman wine sales, restaurant menus, cornell center, hospitality research, increase restaurant wine sales, build wine sales, optimize wine in restaurant channel, wine marketing, increase wine distributionThe Cornell Center for Hospitality Research recently published a study that evaluated more than thirty attributes of restaurant menus and their impact on wine sales in nearly 300 restaurants. The study identified only a few factors that were positively correlated with higher wine sales. Restaurants that sold more wine included the wine lists in their food menus, did not put dollar signs on the wine prices, had a “reserve” section, and offered multiple wines from the popular wineries on the menu. In more casual restaurants, a large selection, approximately 150 wines including low cost wines, improved wine sales as well. The full study is available on line: click on one of the links at the beginning of this paragraph to view it.

The study noted that metropolitan area, liquor sales volume (a proxy for total sales volume), and cuisine type accounted for more than half of the variation observed in wine sales. The average Chicago and Miami restaurant in the study sold approximately twice as much wine as the California and Las Vegas restaurants. Surprisingly, the New York metropolitan area restaurants in the study averaged half the wine sales of those in California and a quarter of the wine sales of those in Chicago or Miami. Steak houses, seafood restaurants, and American restaurants sold approximately 25% more wine than Italian and French restaurants. Asian restaurants sold only a third of the wine sold in the average steak house in the survey.

These results have significant implications for wineries. Most important, wineries can use these results to target their sales efforts towards restaurants that sell the most wine. This will make the sales process more efficient. Wineries can also evaluate the effectiveness of the restaurant menu in selling wine, based on the results of the survey. Additionally, wineries can use this information to evaluate the effectiveness of their broker and distributor partners, as well as their direct sales force.

Using this type of information effectively can help wineries succeed in today’s challenging economic environment. With the growth of the internet, a tremendous volume of information is available at no cost to wineries that know how to find and separate relevant data from irrelevant information. The wineries that survive and ultimately thrive will successfully create small advantages in their business strategy using this type of information and then execute relentlessly and with discipline against their strategies. These wineries will be positioned to maximize their sales and profits when the business climate improves.

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How to Grow Your Business When Everything Else Is Shrinking Mon, 03 Aug 2009 15:37:05 +0000 Mike Sullivan consumer marketing, madison avenue, new opportunities, wine marketing, direct to consumer wine sales, using customer information, using brand advocates, building wine sales, building wine brandsLet the ‘4% Factor’ Help You Tap Into the Right Data to Create New Opportunities – Article by Scott Morgan – Published: July 15, 2009 in Ad Age Daily News

Wine marketers should pay attention to Madison Avenue, especially when trying to map out strategies and tactics to get the most out of social media and Direct to Consumer marketing.

Particularly relevant is the article’s discussion of the 4% Factor. Marketer’s talk about “casting a wide net” and it is widely accepted that 20% of your customers typically do 80% of your business. Where Mr. Morgan is spot-on is that 4% of your customer base contains the “true believers”, the “evangelists” and your friends and families that love your brand and will help you succeed if you ask. Brands from Yahoo to Coca-Cola use transaction and behavior data to sort out their best consumers, targeting specific types of messages via specific channels of communication.

According to Mr. Morgan, President at independent, full-service agency Brunner, “Four is the significant digit because it is this relative number that seems to rise to the surface every time a study is conducted or a program is measured, proving that those impacting your brand (typically characterized as volume, margin or advocacy) tend to be a relatively small number of the whole customer universe.” Brunner’s clients include GSK consumer brands, Cub Cadet outdoor power equipment, Golf Pride club grips and Zippo lighters.

One example Mr. Morgan cites in the article is Catalina Marketing: its Checkout Coupon system identified that 1% of IAMS’ pet-food buyers accounted for 80% of the annual volume of the brand’s sales in the supermarket channel. LaRosa’s Pizzeria chain, another example, discovered that a small percentage of its customers account for significant portions of various menu items (for example, 4% purchase 65% of calzones).

The specific steps Mr. Morgan points out to grow a business or product line successfully and to react and adapt more quickly to future opportunities are particularly relevant for small wineries (some of the steps have been edited):

1. Find: Discover and define your main source of volume, margin or advocacy by tapping into existing customer data.

2. Filter: Sift through the data and intelligence by segmenting, profiling and using predictive modeling to develop a pool of target segments and markets. Who are your best customers? Organize them into groups.

3. Magnify: Examine, select and prioritize the top three to five target groups. Listen to what they say on-line, on the phone and in your tasting rooms. Dig deeper into why they buy your wine and ask them if they have friends you should be inviting to your winery for events and private tastings.

4. Expand: Build out the selected communities via holistic communications strategies ranging from broadcast emails to social media in order to establish dialogue and grow the universe of new entrants and new advocates.

Mr. Morgan admits that this has been said before but I like the way he puts it. “Today, brands are built by communities of like-minded individuals who share their brand experiences with others and those with whom they have some connection. Pinpoint those communities — or markets of business opportunity — and find creative ways to get them to help recruit your next customers.”

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WineCircle Consulting Partners with eWinery Tue, 09 Jun 2009 19:55:10 +0000 Bill Gram-Reefer

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Creating Content for your Wine Site Tue, 09 Jun 2009 19:47:22 +0000 Mike Sullivan original content, wine business, wine industry, wine web site, online wine sales, california wine salesGood presentations and white papers on the genetic makeup of social media sites and Web 2.0 participants are available. Forrester Research published a book in 2008 called Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed (by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff – available at and Gary Hayes produced a good presentation on SlideShare titled Creating Online Buzz, Growing Communities. In a nutshell, to be successful you need to have a stable of Creators who come up with original content for your social site.

If you look around the winery talent pool and you can’t find content Creators you may need to hire a “ghost writer” for you or your winemaker or whoever that persona is you want to be positioned front and center on your social site; remember that more people view videos and photos on-line than articles and blogs.

Additionally, you will need Editors who will edit content created by others or submit content created by others. Critics are a plus, not a negative. If you make good wine you should not have to worry about criticism of your wine. Nobody likes mean-spirited hackers and, if lacking spam-filters, most SNS’s have applications for the community to self-police, register complaints and remove disruptive miscreants (ex.: Craig’s List). In the social atmosphere critics comment on the content submitted by others, such as, photos, videos and jokes that may have surfaced at your last wine tasting event.

You want lots of Sharers who will forward content to others. If your Creators and Editors are engaging your membership then you will attract more Sharers. Finally, you need Consumers. This is the silent majority who are attracted to your site, contribute to traffic but only passively consume content and either post by personalizing it, OR NOT. The graphic up above shows the levels of influence and impact of participants in a social networking community. Think about it, the guy snapping photos on his smart phone at your tasting bar is a creator. 1st try to get your wine label in the picture and then ask him to post his photos on your site.

Remember that you are creating your social site for your friends. Provide some incentives for your friends to contribute content, edit, share, and invite other friends to your site. Free invites to events at the winery always get attention and here’s an idea featured on Oprah. Invite your content contributors from anywhere in the world to a Skype wine tasting. Now that is what I want to do next time I’m flying cross country on a crowded 757!

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How Social Media Helps Build Online Sales Thu, 04 Jun 2009 21:41:12 +0000 Mike Sullivan wine sales, social networking, web 2.0, build online wine sales, wine business, twitter, facebook, myspace, wine industryVintank recently published an 86 page whitepaper, We are here. We are HERE. WE ARE HERE! The State of Wine Industry Social Media. The paper is informative with some good tips on how and where to get started using Social Networking Sites (SNS’s) to build an online presence for your wine business and brands.

The paper focuses in on Facebook and Twitter for B to C social networking and Linkedin for B to B social networking. It highlights these sites as the best high-traffic SNS’s to put your resources behind. I agree with their logic and their selections, including eliminating MySpace when bandwidth is an issue.

Also included are in-depth profiles of a number of Wine-Social sites including Adegga, CellarTracker, Cork’d, Snooth, VinCellar by Vinfolio and WineLog. Though the list is incomplete, forms are made available for those missing wine-social sites that want to be included going forward. Personally, I would have included Wine.Meetup but I’m sure that they will get added to the list in the future. The message is to “pick a pew” where your highest concentration of customers and prospects reside, map out a strategy and get busy generating content and building “buzz”.

In their purest form, Social Networks are all about connecting with people you know and keeping them informed of what you are doing. Activity is in the forefront and connections are secondary. Social networking sites work well for announcing wine events and for publishing digital media after the events. Before you jump in thinking that Facebook is the ticket to selling out your inventory consider the etiquette appropriate for social media marketing.

It takes time to build and deploy your social network for marketing purposes. While you are considering how you might leverage your friends and associates on Facebook and on other social networks be prepared and write up a plan. This is, after all, your network of friends so let your wine do the talking via tasting events with candid photos and videos that don’t look staged (Fun is infectious).

Importantly, you don’t want to garishly broadcast your sales and marketing messaging as you would with traditional advertising, but rather create the environment where friends influence friends. Join the conversation but don’t attempt to dominate or force your friends to say what you want to hear. By all means recruit content creators and editors and encourage photos and (short) videos that you can put on your site and publish on Flickr and YouTube (According to “The Global Web Index,” from Trendstream, with research conducted by Lightspeed Research, early this year 72% of US Internet users watched video clips monthly—making video bigger than blogging or social networking).

Your social site should grow organically with a little cultivation and by getting to know your friends who visit your tasting room, attend your events, sign up for your wine clubs and enjoy chronicling and sharing the social experiences/events they participate in along with the great wines you make.

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New Vine Logistics Closure Forces Wineries to Scramble for Logistics Services Tue, 02 Jun 2009 17:05:38 +0000 Peter Grossman new vine logistics, wine economic downturn, wine logistics companies, wine logistics strategies, shipping wine, wine picking and packing, small wineries, wine fulfillmentThe abrupt closure of New Vine Logistics due to “financial crisis,” as reported by today, begins a new chapter in how wineries will fulfill direct sales to consumers. The several hundred wineries currently using New Vine Logistics must, at a minimum, scramble to service their winery direct orders without interruption. If these wineries are unable to easily access limited production wines already stored at the New Vine facility, this may prove to be a particularly difficult challenge. The wineries that are fortunate enough to use other methods of fulfillment for their direct orders should make sure they fully understand the implications of this event for their business as well.

The New Vine story provides a link to the article “Getting Wine to the Consumer,” which offers a non-comprehensive list of logistics service providers, classified as Consolidation/Logistics companies, Transportation companies, Case Goods Warehouses, Fulfillment Houses, and Common Carriers. Another link to the related article “How to Select a Third Party Fulfillment Center,” provides additional information on logistics choices that need to be made in the wine business. These articles offer a good start in the process of thinking through an optimal wine logistics vine logistics, wine economic downturn, wine logistics companies, wine logistics strategies, shipping wine, wine picking and packing, small wineries, wine fulfillment

The message for all wineries is not to take logistics for granted. Working through the complexities of what to do in-house and what to outsource, let alone which companies to use for outsourced services, requires significant expertise. The first task for wineries is to determine whether they have adequate expertise to make these critical business decisions alone. If they do not, then deciding where to get help in evaluating logistical alternatives is critical. Many elements are involved in running a successful direct to consumer shipping operation, including allocating available product, picking and packing accurately, billing, complying with a myriad of state regulations, financial and regulatory reporting, timeliness, and cost.

Poorly thought through fulfillment can have significant impact on a winery’s sales, profitability, and customer satisfaction. Making the appropriate decisions and investment, in addition to picking the best business partners, should not be taken lightly. The wineries that heed the “wakeup call” and take the appropriate steps to ensure that their logistics strategies are appropriate for their business will be more successful than those who ignore this event and just continue with business as usual.

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Van Ruiten Family Vineyards 2007 Old Vine Zinfandel Selected by Wall Street Journal Mon, 01 Jun 2009 20:49:58 +0000 Mike Sullivan van ruiten family wines, wall street journal, best zinfandel, 2009, WSJwine Annual Dozen 2009, Lodi International Wine Competition, wine, winery, wine industry news, wine business, californiaCongratulations to our client, Van Ruiten Family Vineyards, and winemaker, Ryan Leeman, for their selection by the Wall Street Journal’s WSJwine Annual Dozen 2009. Van Ruiten’s 2007 Old Vine Zinfandel was rated the best Zinfandel by the judges led by Hugh Johnson, world’s best-selling wine writer and most widely respected authority, Paul Lukacs of Saveur magazine, 2009 Sommelier of the Year candidate Joris Beijn and three other expert tasters.

wsj-annualdozenbuntingThe grapes used in this award-winning zinfandel are from 50-year-old vines – the first vines planted by winery founder John Van Ruiten. Leeman aged this big-bodied zinfandel in new American oak for 10 months to bring out deep notes of blueberries and cherries. The WSJwine selection adds to the 2007 Van Ruiten Zinfandel’s accolades: the wine also received a Double Gold medal and was rated “Best of California” Zinfandel at the 2009 Lodi International Wine Competition.

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How Will Wineries Adapt to Changes in the Restaurant Business? Wed, 27 May 2009 12:00:28 +0000 Peter Grossman wine business, restaurants, fine dining, wine sales, premium wines, sommeliers consumer preferencesOn April 30, Wine Spectator published a telling story on how restaurants are being forced to adapt to changes in consumer wine buying behavior. Two trends are driving these changes: first, consumers are trading down in the wine they drink; second, consumers are drinking more wine at home and less in restaurants. Restaurants are dealing with a significant decline in revenues as consumers trim their budgets by reducing the number of times they dine out. Many restaurants are reacting by decreasing their corkage fees, reducing plate sizes, emphasizing lower priced wines by the glass, and generally searching for ways to offer more value to their customers. Many restaurant managers are forcing sommeliers to sell from existing inventory to conserve cash, impacting wine sales for distributors and wineries.

For some restaurants, this situation will result in permanent changes in their business, creating opportunities for wineries who respond appropriately to these changes. Recognizing what restaurants will be buying when they replenish their wine inventories and having the appropriate product to satisfy this demand will be critical for capitalizing on these opportunities. Targeting the best restaurants and having the means to present their products to these restaurants will also be necessary to leverage the situation, as will educating the wait staff on the benefits of wines that reach restaurant menus.

wineWineries must deal with other changes as well. Distributors can be expected to reduce their restaurant sales staffs in response to the decline in restaurant sales, making it harder for wineries to rely on distributors to push their products into restaurants. Retailers can be expected to buy more wine, but their price points will decline as they react to changes in consumer demand patterns. Retailers will try to offset the decline in average unit prices by pressing wineries and distributors for longer margins on items they sell.

In times like these, wineries would do well to remember the close relationship between danger and opportunity. Making good business decisions about deploying appropriate resources in support of a well thought out business strategy that takes into account the current realities of the market will result in new opportunities and new growth for wineries. The dangers wineries face revolve around their abilities to identify the right strategy and desired outcomes, to assemble the necessary resources, and to monitor the application of resources to achieve the outcomes.

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eWinery and WineCircle partner to help wineries build wine sales Wed, 20 May 2009 12:28:08 +0000 Mike Sullivan Wine sales and wine distribution opportunities identified across all channels to facilitate growth

wine, wineries, wine sales, wine business, wine industry, wine distribution, ewinery solutions, build wine sales, build wine distributionNAPA, CA (PRWEB) 05/20/09 — eWinery Solutions and WineCircle Consulting announced a new partnership to help wineries build wine sales and wine distribution. Wineries can now take advantage of WineCircle Consulting’s success building wine sales in conjunction with eWinery Solutions’ web services and direct-to-consumer marketing tools. This unique partnership offers wineries new, cost-effective strategies and tactics to grow direct sales and channel sales.

Led by Peter Grossman, former Senior Vice President and General Merchandise Manager at Beverages and More! (Bevmo!), WineCircle Consulting provides analytics, product plans, team assessments, and channel sales support for wineries seeking to sell more wine, further extend their brand(s) into retail distribution, and achieve sustainable sales growth.

“Many wineries offer high quality wines but cannot get to first base with retail and wholesale buyers,” explained Grossman. “WineCircle is uniquely positioned to help wineries work within the system and leverage their resources.” WineCircle works closely with clients to identify opportunities and deliver the right product offerings to retail and wholesale buyers.

According to Grossman, even in a down economy, retail buyers are always looking for the right products to replace slow sellers in their stores, and wholesale buyers are looking for products that will be supported at retail. “WineCircle helps wineries understand product mix and pricing strategies that meet these buyers’ criteria.”

wine, wineries, wine sale, wine distribution, ewinery solutions, build wine sales, build wine distributioneWinery Solutions offers innovative Web Content Management, CRM, eCommerce, Wine Club, and Internet Marketing solutions to wineries and third party marketers. eWinery Solutions attributes their success to hard work, essential insight into the global wine industry, creative web development and marketing techniques, and an adherence to the core values of innovation, passion, excellence, and mutual effort.

“Our focus combines expert wine industry knowledge with leading technology and service providers to help clients meet their business goals,” said eWinery COO, Ron Sharman. “WineCircle Consulting has the experience and expertise to help our clients achieve their channel sales objectives.”

About WineCircle Consulting
WineCircle Consulting is a marketing consultancy that improves wine sales for its clients as it develops product, pricing, distribution, personnel, and outsourcing strategies that achieve sustainable sales growth. The WineCircle Consulting team includes retail sales expert Peter Grossman, channel sales specialist Mike Sullivan, a wide-ranging Advisory Board and a network of marketing, sales, operations, financial and business planning professionals that can be deployed depending on the scope of the project and the needs of the client. For more information, please visit

About eWinery Solutions
eWinery Solutions provides a comprehensive consumer-direct solution for the wine industry. The company’s state-of-the-art ecommerce platform provides all of the tools necessary to help wine retailers sell more wine online. Website content, products and member information can be easily managed from any computer, anywhere, at any time through an easy-to-use online editor. For more information, please visit

eWinery Solutions Contact:
Ron Sharman
Chief Operating Officer
Tel: 707-227-1609

WineCircle Consulting Contact:
Mike Sullivan
Executive Vice President
Tel: 925-348-9300

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