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FENG SHUI: A Guest Authors Sales Energy Theory

Ed. Note:  Guest Post from Suzanna Siebert.  I don’t know Suzanna.  I’ve never talked with her.  A gentleman who is a member of the Wine Business Network (that I manage on LinkedIn) posted this and I thought it was interesting ... so I’m re-posting here. I personally think stacks sell better because we’re trained as consumer to know that end-caps means promotion i.e. cheaper price, but what do I know?  There’s a whole psychology to retail and why going through the produce section first is better for sales then starting with frozen foods and why milk is tucked into the back requiring a trip through the entire store ... The answer to soft retail sales for wine?  Karma, energy and Feng Shui. 

WHY DO STACKS SELL BETTER THAN SHELVES?
By: Suzanna Siebert, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Have you ever wondered why wine tends to sell better in stacks? I believe it has to do with energy. Energy, Prana, Chi, “Vibes,” whatever you like to call it; we feel it, and some can see it.
Take a grocery store, for instance, where wine is displayed on shelves, and in cases stacked with the top one cut open to display the bottles. There are a few energetic reasons (besides promotions and pricing) as to why a wine will sell better in a stack than on the shelf.

The energy of its essence, where it comes from, and its substance is stronger, remaining together, and having part of its home energy still with it.
While wine is still closed up in boxes, it is carrying some of its home energy. The display bottles on top of a stack, being part of this unit, share and exude this energy. It is a powerful grounding of its particular energy. Bottles lined up on a shelf, stacked backwards by label, lose this essence energy in the mix of the many energies lined up horizontally. To a busy shopper, the shelf energy can be overwhelming, whereas stacks and pallets of singular items have a strong energetic attraction.

Energy transferred in the display process also will affect a product’s effectiveness. A stack which is displayed by a sales rep, or distributor, has much higher chances of having positive energetic thoughts directed at it, than products which are shelved and maintained by store employees who have no interest in or connection to the successful sale of the product. For instance, a sales rep or distributor who consciously and carefully sets up the display, or someone who is making a commission off the sale is more apt to be subconsciously sending grateful, appreciative, positive and happy thoughts during the process, hence creating a good aura around the product. This energy transfers and bounces off the product, affecting buyers in the vicinity.

Ask any retail salesperson in a show room, no matter what the product, they will tell you they personally sell most of what they “like” and what appeals to them. They will also tell you that a product will move quickly after it has had attention and consideration from several prospective buyers, even if the product has been losing its attractive energy and collecting dust!

FENG SHUI

We can take this a step further, and get a bit technical with Feng Shui. Sales will be affected by the placement of the stack in the store environment, and the placement of the bottle on the shelf. Even if you know nothing about Feng Shui, try the following:

If you have enough choices, try different spots or areas and tune in to which “feels” best to you. It’s possible you could feel a “click” when you have found the right spot. Don’t fret if you don’t, practice makes perfect. Play around a bit at home with furniture, or rearranging things in the yard, and see if you can tune into the “clicking” or however the right spot presents itself to you. This exercise in energy consciousness has a double effect for your health. Slow down enough to breathe deeply and be totally consciously present. This will enable your focus and tuning in. Practice often with practically everything you do and see what positive effects it has on you and your health, not only on your sales!

There we have it, a little TLC always helps and never hurts, no matter what the product or task. Stack it up, be happy with it, and make it stronger!

Suzanna Siebert grew up and resides in the Sonoma Valley Wine Country of California. She has a background in Sales and Marketing, Advertising, Retail and Customer Service. Most recently she has combined her educational and work experience with her gift and interest in Energy Work for promotional business applications. Suzanna can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


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How to Give a Wine-Related Wedding Gift with Style and Panache

I would hasten a guess that approximately 99.7% of all to-be-married upwardly mobile couples have wine glasses on their gift registry.  The percentage that has dessert glasses on same said registry is probably 0.3%.  Tragic, though it may be, this seems to be our manifest destiny unless we start to extol the virtues of liquid gold.

This dearth of dessert wine glass wherewithal is a shame and a shame that needs to be fixed!  The path of least resistance, obviously, tied into when people receive wine glasses as a gift, is to increase the awareness of the delights of dessert wine … more on that in a second …

Most of these registry wine glasses, purchased from the same department stores nationally, end up in the dining room china cabinet relegated to three times annual spot duty.  It should be noted that the owners of these wine glasses are the same folks who drive consumption of popular media articles about pairing wine for Easter/Passover, Thanksgiving, and Christmas/Hanukkah.  At least we know who to blame.  Hardly ever, however, is a breath unleashed, or a keyboard stroke tapped, on dessert wines or the attendant drinking vessel.

There is a gigantic wine culture vacuum on dessert wine, a sublime pleasure that everybody (anybody?) can appreciate. 

This thought came to me as I contemplated my Sister-in-Law who has ten weddings this summer and ten gifting opportunities.  More than that, probably, if you consider the gift grab that is modern day wedding showers, a practice that can squeeze you for every nickel and extrapolate your gifting requirements with a multiplier.

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Fortunately, my window for summer wedding travel closed a few years back, but that doesn’t mean wisdom earned from numerous gifting opportunities can’t be passed along.

Essentially, there are only a few ways to skin the wedding gift season, customizable to your gifting value comfort level, $35 to $50 being the entry point, $100 being a nice way station and $150 being suitably generous.

1) Buy off the registry

This is the safe, boring route.  The bride wants an All-Clad skillet, a china place setting or eight red wine glasses.  You spend money commensurate with your relationship standing with the bride and groom and a rough approximation of what the reception food and bar tab is by individual.  Snooze.

2) Buy cheap

Depending on your proximity to the couple, you can go the inexpensive and safe route and buy a picture frame or two or something equally unmemorable like kitchen accessories—the Oxo vegetable peeler being a popular choice, an item that suddenly seemed covetable when the bride-to-be had a scanner in her had at Bed, Bath & beyond. 

While you’re driving down your costs as a gift-giver, you’re also lumped into the same category as Uncle Bob and Aunt Edna – a week later the bride and groom can’t recall who got them that gem of a picture frame and as long as the thank you card has been sent, they probably don’t care to remember, either.

3) Go off script and freelance

This is typically my domain as I’ve always hated to buy off the registry.  My wife tells me that safe is better than sorry, but I’ve never followed that practice.
Call me a vain glorious gift giver, but I’ve always liked to give a gift that challenges somebody’s POV, or is at least unexpected.  Sure, they’re not asking for it, but I think the best gifts are those that are personal, memorable and add to somebody’s life.

My current obsession is dessert wine – notably Inniskillin; better described as liquid gold.  Consequently, since my friends and family know I’m way into wine, my current gift recommendation to my Sister-in-Law is turning other people onto dessert wines, specifically Inniskillin, and how to drink this nectar of the Gods.

A perfect wedding gift for those that are wine inclined is a beautiful bottle of Inniskillin, any variety, and some cordial glasses with a tailored “how-to” on how to enjoy. 

In this regard, you have to go down the route of Icewine or, at the least, a Late Harvest wine, because most women who have a cursory knowledge of wine still think of Port as something that goes with a cigar, dark paneling and men that refer to women as “Broads.”  So, keep your gift positioning to the general rubric of “dessert” wines.  Nobody likes to piss off the bride and you’re already taking a small risk by freelancing.

Here’s what to do:

1) Go to your local wine shop, or shop online and grab any bottle of Inniskillin relative to how much you want to pay.  Prices range from $35 to $95.  Keep an eye on bottle size because Inniskillin does bottle in 187 ML bottles.  Bigger is better, relative to your cost threshold. Literally, they’re all good, so you can’t go wrong.  In the last two weeks I’ve enjoyed the Riesling, Vidal and the Cabernet Franc.  Each one was delicious. A can’t miss.

2) Now that you have the bottle of Inniskillin, buy dessert glasses.  Here is where I encourage you to be creative.  If you find dessert wine glasses these days, they typically have a stem.  Boring.  Any small drinking vessel will do and the cooler the better.  Icewine is a sipper, so you don’t need a large glass.  Small is okay.  If you buy vintage, I think you get bonus points for thinking outside the department store box, as well.

In order to knock this out you’ll need to do a search online for “vintage cordial glasses,” “footed shot glasses” or, if you’re feeling real dandy, “vintage egg cups.”

This isn’t my idea, and I’m not sure where I thieved it from, but egg cups make a fantastic dessert wine drinking glass.  They hold just about two ounces, they come in an amazing assortment of kitschy cool styles and they allow you to give with panache.  This is the route I recommend, but if your inner Republican calls you, go with “footed shot glasses,” this is, in fact, what I drink out of.

3) Now that you have your bottle of Inniskillin and your cool egg cups, get some Avery labels – my recommendation is the greeting card kind and then search online for, “ice wine.”  Cut and paste from Wikipedia, pilfer some clip art, add a food pairing with some cheese, print out and sign your name.

You have now just officially become the coolest wedding gifter – total price is tailorable to your budget and you’re guaranteed to be mentioned by the couple every time they use the glasses in the future, which, based on how good Inniskillin wine is, should be often and forevermore.

And, finally, we end where we begin, because you have now also just done a small part in shaping the wine future of the couple by forsaking the wine glasses that get used three times annually while singlehandedly increasing the percentage of dessert wine glasses that are purchased for weddings from the 0.3% to at least 0.1%. 

You’ve also just set yourself up for baby’s first gift, too.  I like to give wine or liquor as a baby gift, nobody ever thinks about the parents, and they’re going to want to start a collection of egg cups, too—trust me, but that’s a post for another day.


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Vin de Napkin - Spring Fling Edition

A couple more doodlings on the back of a napkin ...

I saw this article on Sting getting into wine (and who isn’t really?) and immediately thought of the urban legend about his trantric sexual prowess in the sack.  Immortalized in the Barenaked Ladies song “One Week,” a loooooong finish seems almost too easy of a punchline.

This weekend saw my wife getting up early to go to Target to buy the “Twilight” DVD—a three disc version that is exclusive to that retailer.  I don’t get it.  But, then, there are a lot of things I don’t get, the least of which is my own fascination with wine, which is shared by precious few in my inner circle.

Finally, no punchline, but Rex Pickett, the author of “Sideways” was quoted in this article about a potential sequel.  Pickett describes a plotline that sounds like a cross between Little Miss Sunshine and Vacation.  Who knows if he is serious, but we can probably guess that a sequel to the book and subsequently the movie is in the offing in the future. 

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Oregonian Vintners Fight a Rash of Conflicting, Questionable Advice as the Storm Clouds Gather

You know how in the South you can get away with saying just about anything as long as you caveat the statement with a genteel, patronizing inflection and a, “Bless his/her heart, I know he’s trying.”

Well, the Pacific Northwest and the Oregon wine industry have a version of this, as well.

Quoted in the online edition, at Oregonlive.com, Barbara Insel, CEO of Stonebridge Research Group in Napa, said:

“These are very nice people, and I’ve met a lot of them, but it never occurred to them how much it costs to sell the stuff.  If you aren’t full of cash, you’re in trouble.”

… Nothing like looking down your nose at Oregon, from an outpost in Napa … 

Patronizing quotes aside, Insel has one thing right—the Oregon wine industry is in a pickle. Unfortunately, they have been getting a lot of dubious advice about how to weather the storm and not much of it has anything to do with having a boatload of money in the bank, as Insel suggests.

Today’s reality is about selling where the market is buying and not getting too caught up in macro-trends that are hard to quantify – things like quality perception, for example.

The context to the situation is that the number of Oregon wineries has grown from 195 earlier this decade to 395 present day.  Likewise, the number of vineyards has grown to an astonishing 855.

There is more juice in Oregon then there are consumer buyers and most of that wine is priced outside of the price range where most people are buying these days.

Credit the mercurial, heartbreak grape. 

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Oregon wineries, focusing on predominantly Pinot Noir in the Ultra-Premium category – generally $15 to $50, are faced with a consumer market that is penalizing wines in that price category, while also shrinking their tourism dollars and spend at tasting rooms.  At the same time, nascent brands without much large-scale recognition are being penalized in the three-tier with an ever-closing window on the ability to get into distribution. 

It is a bad perfect storm of circumstance.

According to Wine & Spirits Daily from IRI research:

Oregon saw declines in the four-week period, prompted most likely by trading down from high-end Pinot Noir.  Overall sales of Oregon were flat and volumes declined -4.7%.  Lower-end wines in the price range of ($3-$5) and $8-$11) declined in value and volume for Oregon, while wines priced $11-$15 declined in volume.  Higher end wines posted growth in the single digits, slowing considerably from last year. 

Pinot Noirs priced $20 and above declined -4% in dollar sales but grew 1.5% in volume.  This suggests that prices were lowered in February, where average price per volume from a year ago was down -5.2%.  Pinot Noirs in the $15-$20 range actually posted some growth, up 8% in sales 7% in volume, with a 1.1% price increase from last year.  Pinot Noir priced $11-$15 declined -3% in sales and -5.7% in volume, but the average price per volume rose 3%.  Pinots priced $8-$11 saw the most growth in sales and volume, with price declining -1.2%.

These numbers suggest what we already know—$8-11 is moving wine and $20 is the new luxury price point.  $40 is a completely irrational splurge.

Yet, pundits are throwing out macro-level advice that does not make any sense given the intractable truths of wine consumption today.

Wine Lovers are:
1) Inveterate explorers
2) Not brand loyal
3) Sensitive to price in ways that cannot be quantified
4) Completely irrational about price in ways that can’t be quantified
5) Buying less expensive wines, while maintaining the quantity of purchase

For example, I will not pay more than $20 for a white wine.  I just don’t do it.  There is too much decent white wine that I can buy for under $20 for me to spend more than that.

Likewise, I have found that $15 - $40 frequently gets me a bottle of red that is indiscernible in quality to my palate across the price spectrum.  In times of belt-tightening, I am simply buying more around the $15 dollar range.

If you consider that there are 7,000 wine brands, but less than 300 sell more than 100,000 cases annually, you are able to fully contextualize that the problem hitting the Oregon wine industry, for all of its growth, are with wineries that are not national, mainstream brands.

Therefore, to suggest to them that they should take one for the team and not reduce prices to get their product in alignment with buying trends is a dubious recommendation.

From The Oregonian:

Oregon owes its recognition as a player in the wine world to its high-end pinot noir.  Producers of that flagship grape are doing everything they can to avoid the type of price-slashing now affecting wines selling at lower price points.

Trimming prices on the state’s best wines, they say, would send a signal to consumers that the wines were overpriced to begin with.  Producers insist that’s not the case, and many wine-drinkers seem to agree.

Phew, a touch of jurisprudence there, but there is more …

According to this article in Wines and Vines magazine quoting from the Oregon Wine Industry Symposium:

While discounting may help move product in the short term by putting cash in the hands of wineries, wine marketer Larry Lockshin of Australia’s Ehrenberg-Bass Institute told growers they’ve got to focus on cultivating loyal customers rather than discounting.

How can you find a customer, if they are not buying your wine because it is too expensive?

In my reading, there is a second wave of recommendations, aside from holding the line on pricing, and that’s selling your wine via private-label, like many of the wines that are purchased at Trader Joe’s – the reason for doing so is brand preservation because reducing price is damaging.

Both suggestions, holding the line on price and private-labeling, are B.S., especially for Oregon wines.

I am no business and marketing genius, but the goal of any business is to sell a product to a customer and earn a profit.

Secondarily, this reduction in price only holds true if you have a brand that has mental recall with consumers – a situation that clearly is not the case with Oregon wineries.

Brand building takes years of steady diligence, only in tragic circumstance are they undone overnight, and likewise, most brands can and should withstand the vagaries of price within the super-premium wine category.

To suggest, for a growing, young company, whose brand is largely unknown, that it is a better idea to sell your wine as a private label to preserve your brand equity is also B.S.

Here is my advice:  Do not throw the baby out with the bathwater, continue working on your brand story, a notion that is recession and inflation proof, continue to get the word out about your winery, continue to innovate in engaging with customers, be fully transparent with your customers, and price your wine where people want to buy it.

And, disregard the pundits whose job is dispensing advice and not selling wine.

Or, to paraphrase the pundits from the wineries perspective, “These (pundits and experts) are very nice people, and I’ve met a lot of them, but it never occurred to them how difficult it is to run a small business with agricultural roots, meanwhile, they’re selling advice and reports without understanding the realities at the customer level.  Most of these pundits are full of shit, and many are in trouble.  But, bless their heart, they’re trying.”

Additional Reading

2009 Oregon Wine Industry Symposium a Success


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North vs. South – A Dessert Wine Showdown

Quick!  Word association time.  I say “wine.” What do you think of? 

Most, of us think “red wine.”  It is unfortunate that our wine conversational palate doesn’t often include the entire ecosystem of wine, including cordial, sparklers and dessert.

I bring this up because, a day late, I am writing about Wine Blogging Wednesday and this month’s theme, North vs. South, hosted by Remy Charest, the writer at The Wine Case, an erudite blog written by Remy at his outpost in Quebec, the France of North America.

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His thematic premise is simple – choose a wine varietal or style and then compare the two—one from a northerly location and another from a southern locale.

I chose an icewine from the Niagra peninsula in Canada versus a Late Harvest wine from the Finger Lakes North Fork of Long Island (thanks to Daniel from Casual Kitchen for the catch).  Geographically in the same region, but separated by about 500 miles, both wines are fine representatives of their style, but more on that in a moment.

First, I do want to expose what I believe to be a real injustice in our wine culture.  Cordial wines (i.e. sweet wines), sparkling wines and then dessert wines are often times relegated to 2nd class status in our wine conversations, veritable coach passengers to red and white wines first class status.

And, I don’t know why.

So many people, rightfully so, advocate wine as a natural complement to food and a partner at the table of conviviality and good living, yet we mentally neglect a significant portion of the wine styles available.  It stands to reason that we all have some work to do in terms of helping grow acceptance for a nice cordial style wine that can act as a nice preamble to the meal, a sparkler that can act as an aperitif, and a dessert wine that caps off the comestibles, these styles book ending a red or white wine, as it may be.

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That said, this brings me to my wine choices for this months theme – ice wine and late harvest wine.

This article from The Seattle Times nicely summarizes the differences between ice wine and a late harvest style:

There are significant differences between late-harvest and ice wines. The term “Late Harvest” has no legal definition in the U.S. It generally means that the grapes were allowed to ripen past the sugar levels at which ordinary dry table wines are picked. The extra ripening may extend hangtime for weeks …

True ice wines are rare indeed. In Canada, Germany and Austria, ice wine (or eiswein) is strictly regulated. There are standards for sugar levels and temperatures at harvest, and other regulations regarding the actual pressing of the grapes.

What ice wine delivers that ordinary late-harvest wines do not are extremely concentrated, tropical fruit flavors (often pineapple is the dominant note) along with a crystalline clarity and vivid acidity. These wines are ready to drink when released …

I chose the 2007 Jackson-Triggs Vidal Ice wine – est. retail around $17

It pours like undulating yellow amber 5W 30 motor oil, not a great descriptor, but apropos in terms of viscosity, a light and lively style that is beautifully balanced between sweetness and acidity with notes of super ripe mango and apricot on the nose and a tropical party on the palate – pineapple and peach on the palate.  This invites sip after sip and can stand alone as dessert by itself.  An excellent value for the price, Jackson-Triggs is recommended. 

My other choice was the 2007 Waters Crest “Night Watch” Late Harvest Wine – est. retail around $45 (available at winery web site)

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Comprised of 70% Chardonnay, 20% Gewürztraminer, and 10% Riesling, this deep yellow / light ochre wine pours like 10W 30 motor oil, a little heavier and thick with a pleasant mouth coating weight to it.  Mild acidity that could be incrementally more present, this wine offers delicious honeyed pineapple and fresh apricot with a faint floral note on the nose and beautiful dried pineapple and honey on the palate.  It is a very nice wine that dances the fine line close to overly sweet, yet it does not go over the top.  But, the Waters Crest does not stand alone, doing its best work if paired with a cheese course and/or savory dessert, offering well-matched counterpoint and a level of intrigue and deliciousness.  I would go with a hunk of Parmesan Reggiano.  Waters Crest is Recommended. 

Overall, in my opinion, the well-equipped wine enthusiast manages an eco system of wine that lives in a life cycle and the dessert wines, ice wine, late harvest and ports deserve a spot in the cellar, ready to magically cap off a meal and good conversation.  Both of the wines discussed here are good places to start.

Additional Reading:

Ice wine

Disclosure:

I received both reviewed wines as media samples

What I wrote about a Year Ago:

The Amazing, Incredible Shrinking Wine Price Segment - a post about the abandonment of the $11 - $15 price segment by domestic producers


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