Thursday, April 15, 2010

Wine Market Challenges

The domestic wine consumption market has tremendous potential but is also confronted by a number of challenges which have to be overcome in order to transform the milk-swilling daughter of a midwestern farmer into a Sauvignon-Blanc-loving hedonist.  The market challenges include jargon, closures, price points, spoilage issues, form factor, access to aged wines, etc., but, for the neophyte, no single factor looms as large as the bewildering array of choices which he/she confronts when attempting to select a wine.

During this past week, I considered writing a post on wines under $15 (We did not want readers to get the impression that we were unaware of the existence of wines priced south of $100.) and prepared for this eventuality by soliciting input from local retailers as well as consulting internet sources that promised lists of the "best wines under $15."  I collected information from 10 sites and consolidated it with the information gleaned from locals and I only found two wines (one a sparkler) that appeared on more than one list.  So, in today's environment, where people get pre-purchase information on the internet, confusion reigns in the entry level wine space.  With that many choices, and very little guidance, or consensus, it is easy to make a poor decision and reveal your lack of knowledge to family and/or friends.  Why take the chance?

Compounding this lack of clear choice for wine neophytes is the inadequacy of the most ubiquitous entry portal:  the supermarket. People do not leave home to go to a supermarket to buy wine (at least I hope they do not).  Rather, they are buying ingredients for a meal and pick up the wine to accompany the meal(s).  Not only are they confronted with that aforementioned array of choices but, as on the internet, no assistance is available.  You are on your own in Costco or Winn-Dixie. Supermarkets move product but more potential wine converts run aground on the shoals of those aisles in a single day than grace the facilities of  local retailers over the course of an entire year.

For the wine retailer in search of prospects, the aisles at your neighborhood supermarket is fertile ground.

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