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A Wine Drinker's On-Premise Buying Journey

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21/10/2019 To sell something, imagine you’re buying it. What would you look for in a wine brand if you were going out drinking?

Let’s say it’s a cool night, and you’re going out with a special company to have a fun evening to relax after your long workday. You go into a wine bar/restaurant and pretty soon the Sommelier greets you with a warm smile and hands you an extensive wine list.

To the unacquainted, singling out wine from even a medium-sized wine list can be a very daunting task. So, what do they think about while making the decision as to which wine to order?

“They’re a sommelier, they would have a better knowledge of the wines they stock. Let’s see what they suggest” is probably the very first thought in the mind of an average customer without extensive expertise on the subject of wine.

This right here is the first sell that any wine brand needs to make. To get in front of the trendsetters and wine influencers that sommeliers are, and to impress them enough to be in the top 3 wines suggested by them to their customers.

Sommeliers will likely evaluate their customers’ preferences or choices as they state, and based on this information, would assess which wine will satisfy their customer the most. If your brand has won the heart of the sommelier, it won’t take long before your brand wins the heart of the drinker.  

Let's come back to the scenario we were discussing.

After evaluating the wine list, and considering the sommelier’s suggestions, the customer will evaluate their alternatives before making, as they say in marketing, the purchasing decision.

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Let’s go more in-depth here.

There are 3 stages to any consumer’s purchasing decision:

1. Introduction

This is the stage when a consumer comes across a wine brand for the first time.

Let’s say it’s new on the menu of the bar/restaurant and the buyer is curious and willing to opt for something new. What will be the first thing that the buyer would look at? Yes, you guessed it right, the label and the packaging. You have approximately a 60% chance to make that first sale if your packaging and label is:

a) Informative yet concise

The customer would want to know certain information such as the country of origin, vintage, varietal and type of wine, ABV, producer, bottler, or importer. Such information should be included on the label, but in a smart and appealing way, so as not to look very cluttered. Extra elements which are not needed should most definitely be avoided, unless you have the space to add more.

b) Attractive and appealing

The label on the bottle is, in essence, the face of your wine brand. Groom it, and make it look good enough for people to want to get to know it better. It is said that most people drink with their eyes, that is, they'll look at the bottle, and decide right there, if they wish to drink that brand or not. 

c) Unique

If your packaging is unique, in the sense that it would stand out when kept with a set of different wine bottles, the uniqueness will be imprinted in the minds of the customer. They will remember the brand based on their uniqueness.

2. Consideration

The very first thing that an average consumer would do after being exposed to any new product (each wine on the wine list, in this case) is to look at the price tag. This is the stage where a consumer actually makes the decision to purchase. Does it have good value for money, is it affordable, does it match the expectations that the packaging has set, and, probably the most important, what are the sommelier’s thoughts about it.

3. Action

The final decision-making process is the action. Here the consumer will finally decide whether they will or will not purchase that particular wine bottle or a glass of that wine. This will be a cumulative decision of all the aforementioned factors. If they find the brand to be a good recommendation based on the Sommelier's suggestions, the packaging, and the wine's price value, they will feel safe opting for that wine brand.

Now comes the most important part of any sale, the feedback.


Feedback is the most important part of any business. The customer will have an opinion on anything that they consume, and this opinion will be shared by them in their own network, at the very least.

"The more advocates you have, the fewer ads you have to buy." Dharmesh Shah

A satisfied customer will definitely go for a repurchase, advocate for your brand for free, and can provide invaluable marketing aid to the brand just by their word-of-mouth networking. As J.C. Penney said, "The well-satisfied customer will bring the repeat sale that counts".

However, the damage that an unsatisfied customer can do to your brand far outweighs the benefits that a satisfied customer brings to your brand. So, it is of the highest importance to providing the quality that you are charging the value for.

To sum it up, we can say that if the consumers are looking to drink your wine brand, the sommeliers are looking to stock them at their bar/restaurant.