The Gentle Caress of Steve Jobs and Wine
When I heard the news that Steve Jobs, 56 (56!!), had died I was in the process of syncing my Apple iPhone to my Apple iTunes account via my Apple iMac, while uploading Apple Pages, Keynote and Numbers software to my Apple MacBook Pro, and reading Wines & Vines Magazine on my Apple iPad with sounds of Ornette Coleman all around me via my Apple iPod. Upon digesting the news, I made the semi-crass move of checking what my Apple stock was doing in after-hours trading.
Now, while these might be the actions of an Apple fanatic, they are also the actions of a brand loyalist
And it was the death of Steve Jobs (56 years-old!!!!-Jesus, what a waste) that got me thinking about brand loyalty in the wine industry. You don't see a whole lot of it. If you look around the industry you can identify some brands and companies that seem to engender significant amounts of it: Cameron Hughes Wines, The Wine Spectator, ShipCompliant, to name only a few of the few.
What's interesting about brand loyalty is that it's easy enough to create it, but difficult to maintain it. If you do your job well at a winery, you can stir customers to talk up your brand to their friends, telling them what a great wine they had while up in Sonoma or recommending they try a wine they had while visiting the Willamette Valley. But getting this customer to continually buy your wine year after year without a fall off is the really hard part.
I've been buying Apple products for nearly 25 years. I've have seven Apple desktops, four laptops, two iPhones, two iPods and an iPad. I won't patronize another company if I don't have to. Not a day has gone by in those 25 years when I have not used an Apple devise. For the past decade I've used at least two Apple products daily. Today, I use four daily.
What Steve Jobs successfully did was keep touching me regularly with utility, peace of mind and elegance. And it's that regular touching of the customer with at least utility and peace of mind that is the true key to creating and maintaining brand loyalty.
For the winery, it's not so much a necessity that you keep putting wine in the customer's hands day after day in order to maintain brand loyalty. That's the result of brand loyalty. The key is being there, in front of the customer, being there FOR the customer on a regular basis. This is harder and harder to do successfully today not in spite of the various communications tools we now have, but because of the new and various communications tools that now exist.
Because it is easier and easier to reach out and touch a customer at no cost, everyone is touching that same customer, creating DTO (Digital Tactile Overload). What's necessary for a winery or any wine related company is that they don't just touch the customer…they have to caress them just the way they like to be caressed. As we all know, there is a difference between being touched and being caressed.
Touching: "Get 20% off a six pack of Cabernet if you buy in the next 48 hours"
Caressing: "Hey, Bob…thought about you and your wife Jill when I was going through our database. We have 4 cases left of our 2007 Pinot that you liked so much when you were here on your anniversary. Give me a call if you want any of it."
Touching: "Dear Friend—Download our new app and never miss a new issue of our newsletter"
Caressing: "Thanks for being a subscriber for these last 5 years. Here's a code to give a subscription to a friend at no cost. Thanks so much for your loyalty."
It's personal. It's making sure your customer knows you know the details of their loyalty to you.
Of course, Apple was something more. Myself and millions of others were grateful for Steve Jobs and his crew because they so desperately wanted to appeal to our need for elegance, ease, tranquility and peace of mind. It's as though Jobs was constantly creating new products that spoke directly to us.
This is attitude and philosophy. It's an attitude and philosophy that is not necessary for success as anyone who uses Microsoft products can attest. But, when the attitude of caressing the customer is part of the company culture, you do have the primary ingredient for a recipe for success built on brand loyalty.