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Do Wine Ratings Still Matter?


A recent in-house study at Whole Foods Market showed customers are more likely to make buying decisions based on friends’, relatives’ and salespeople’s suggestions.

In a recent post byThe Post and Courier on wine ratings and how they used to help wine retailers drive sales, we can clearly see how wine ratings and reviews by friends is helping consumers decide which wine they should buy. Here is a brief on the article that was published by them on August 24.

Wine critics and the scores they assign to bottles have declined in prestige so precipitously that a recent in-house study at Whole Foods Market showed customers are more likely to make buying decisions based on friends’, relatives’ and salespeople’s suggestions.

At first glance, it appears this is exactly the scenario that wine makers and distributors desired. Throughout the 1990s, the industry lamented how much power was bound up in point ratings that reflected one man’s personal preferences: “Retailers used (scores) instead of training their staff and learning the wines themselves,” recalled wine writer Jordan Mackay, who this afternoon moderated the BevCon Charleston panel on calibrating drinker interests in a post-critic world.

Mackay was joined by Grassroots Wines’ Harry Root; master sommelier Bobby Stuckey and Whole Foods’ Devon Broglie, who shared the market data. “The future is not in scores,” Brogile said.

But it turns out that wine ratings and scores were helpful in ways that wine professionals may not have appreciated during the dual reign of Robert Parker and Larry Stone.

“There’s a whole generation that only knows about the negatives of the critic,” Stuckey said. “They say, ‘oh, I’m so happy Parker is irrelevant.’ But he was being an advocate of all of this. Whether you liked his power or not, it was amazing. He’d go very deep, and you could see the excitement of the consumer.” [...] Read full article On the flip side...

We think wine ratings still matter for trade as it helps you with extra points when you are pitching your product to a retailer. Read this article produced by BTN on why product ratings still matter in trade. For brands entering new markets, it is often difficult to compete against larger companies, especially when unknown labels are allocated to retail shelves packed with competing varieties.

Without a clear selling point or increased brand visibility from innovative programming, small and medium-sized companies have a hard time winning over new markets. Big brand name alcoholic beverages are able to rely on their reputation as a category leader to win-over the average customer.

Their international marketing teams have built a tremendous amount of value over decades of hard work and retailers carry them because their market share rarely changes by wide margins year after year. They dependably pull high volume traffic into bottle-shops (and chain stores) on a regular basis which establishes steady cash flow the retailer can depend on.

Unfamiliar brand names do not have the same luxury and must develop their reputation as a high-performing label in order to secure their position across their retail accounts. Often, ratings displayed on shelf-talkers or bottle hangers are adopted as a brand’s best chance at focusing attention on their label because they are a cost-friendly option that effectively promotes a notion of perceived value to customers. In other words, ratings act as a door opener for small and medium alcoholic beverage brands looking to compete against bigger suppliers in new markets, but should wineries, breweries and distilleries really buy into the phenomenon? Let's discuss this question in an open format at USATT's office hours sessions where other brand owners, distributors and even retailers themselves can help us answer the question. If you have more questions like that and need help, feel free to ask your question now and we will post it in USATT's community and email you the answer report.

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Beverage Trade Network USA Trade Tasting is brought to you by Beverage Trade Network, the leading online platform dedicated to connecting the global beverage industry. Beverage Trade Network (BTN) successfully connects wineries, breweries, distilleries and brand owners with international importers, distributors, brokers and beverage industry professionals on a daily basis. Strong partnerships with international and US organizations have helped BTN establish USA Trade Tasting as a premiere sales and marketing event committed to connecting the beverage industry.