Distributors want taste, not wine ratings

What do distributors want from a winery they handle? According to a new study commissioned by Sonoma State University, distributors more than anything, want wineries to come and visit them in the various states, create tastings for their sales people and engage in “ride-alongs” (that practice of riding about with a sales person, visiting restaurants and retailer and helping them schmooze the buyers.

There’s a press release out there that offers some of the details that are in this study that will be released at a conference for winery sales execs in February. What’s interesting is that in the press releases lead is the statement that distributors choose wineries to distribute based largely on the “dependability of the supplier” and the taste of the wine rather than RATINGS.

Hmmm. Interesting. While this might be true I can tell you that after a winery is picked up by a distributor, ratings become crucial. Quite simply, in absence of an educated, dedicated distributor sales force, ratings are what sell wine. It’s why wineries create “sell sheets” with listings of ratings and reviews and send them off to their distributors.

I get to talk to distributors on a regular basis as our firm implements marketing strategies for clients. Often times I’ll ask, “how can we help more?” The response is “give me ratings” probably 80% of the time.

Nevertheless, it looks like this conference will be interesting. It cost $185 for the day long conference that is being conducted by the NewLevel Group. Info is here.

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