Friday, November 28, 2008

i have a problem with wine

Hi, My name is Ricky, and I'm not an alcoholic. My problem is not drinking wine but buying it. And it's not really my problem so much as I see it as a huge problem for the wine industry. Eventually somebody's going to figure this out and make a fortune. Here's the problem.

Unless you're an experienced wine drinker most people can't tell the difference between expensive wine and cheap wine. In fact blind taste studies even show that regular-folk wine drinkers actually slightly prefer cheap wine over expensive bottles. (On the occasions that I drink expensive wine I feel I can taste the difference, but the difference isn't significant enough to me to justify the extra expense - so I stick with the cheap stuff.)

On the other hand most people don't want their friends to know they're a cheap wine drinker. So in order to fool our friends we avoid buying wines that everybody knows are cheap and instead seek out obscure wines, where, when we set the bottle on the table our guests might just think we spent a lot of money on it. The problem for the wineries then, is that as soon as they develop a brand that people recognize people stop buying it, even if they like the taste.

So wine has a unique marketing problem. How do they attract consumers looking for low-priced wine, without gaining a brand identity as a low-priced wine? The problem for me, the consumer, is that the more information I tend to have about a bottle of wine the less likely I am to buy it - if I've seen it advertised I tend to regard it as "common" and not something that would impress my friends. So I buy a lot of wine I end up not actually enjoying and seldom am able to buy a kind of wine I do enjoy more than 5 or 6 times before everybody knows about it and I need to move on.

One could regard this as a spiritual problem. It's clearly a case of a super-sized ego working against my own joy in life. But it's also interesting that an advertising industry that has become masters at manipulating or even creating spiritual deficiencies in order to boost sales has just the opposite problem in the case of wine: our egos in this case keep us from buying your product.

1 comment:

Eve Bushman said...

Well...I have so much to comment on here...suffice to say that the wine marketing industry HAS solved this problem by using the Wine Spectator magazine to advertise new "Best Buys" on a monthly basis. (I can bring you the pull out section.) Just make sure whatever sounds good to you has thousands of cases...then take your list to World Market. More info? You know where to find me. And stop stealing my ideas--maybe I'll have to link to your blog??