A Place For Every Wine

There’s always a lot of talk about the macro when it comes to beverage menus, but not much about the micro. That is, what does specific placement mean to an item?

For years, one of the received wisdom nuggets about restaurant wine menus has been that the second lowest priced wine is always one of the best sellers, since customers hate to be seen as opting for the least expensive wine available. But a recent analysis by Labrador OmniMedia, who produced the Tastevin tablet wine list, of six months’ worth of data for 50 restaurants across the United States compared sales data to the position a wine held on various lists. The result? A very strong correlation was found between position on the list and the quantity sold.

The report says that a wine listed first in a group will outperform by an immense margin than the wine listed 30th in that group. In fact, the wine listed first will perform nearly 3.5 times better than the wine listed 10th in that same group.

The wine sales data comes from a large sample of 50 accounts in 12 of the largest states and markets in the US. The aggregate results show some of the key drivers of on-premise sales, said the company.

“We are very excited about this information,” says Labrador OmniMedia president Josh Hermsmeyer, “because it really allows us to put hard data into the field. Until now, most of the information about consumer on-premise behavior has been anecdotal. This is hard data as collected by actual transactions at our client restaurants.”

Among the insights, showing the customer a wine label helps to win their business. Tastevin tracked the performance of wines that had labels displayed vs. wines that had no label displayed. The analysis covered over 34 million transactions and found that wines with a label prominently displayed on the list sold 29 percent better than wines with no label.

Obvious, but just as important: brands “recommended” by sommeliers and wine buyers do better. Wines that were flagged as ‘recommended,’ accounted for only about four percent of all wines on the lists yet they accounted for nearly 22 percent of sales. In other words, a recommended wine sells over five-and-a-half times better than a non-recommended wine.

“Sommeliers and beverage buyers have quite a bit of power over which wines are purchased,” says Hermsmeyer. “But restaurants need to look for better ways of making those recommendations available to their customers. When they do that, the wines really sell.”

Much is made of the benefits of integrating technology into our lifestyles, but the most beneficial business tool might be the availability of useful and timely information about consumer behavior. Insights like these can help a beverage director know the best way to help a good wine become better known by his or her customers, for one thing, and to take some of the guesswork out of constructing that next wine list.

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