States in which off premise tastings are permittedTastings are probably the most effective tool wine and spirit suppliers have to make a direct impact on moving more boxes while building the brand. This is in contrast to couponing and discounting which can also have a significant volume impact, but at the risk of undermining, rather than building a brand.
The most successful retail promo programs are those that help individual accounts increase their volume and margins. Let’s be realistic, on and off premise accounts are going to be more interested in supporting the brands that support them…directly (and legally.)

But as they say on TV “But Wait! That’s not All”. Here’s a list of some of the other lessons of a successful tasting program we relearned:
“Remind” the trade that the brand moves
Even if it might not be the sexiest new product in the store, a brand that is a proven volume generator is part of the foundation on which the retailers’ business is based. As is often the case, the attention of management and line folks at the distributor and importer level is often diverted to other priorities. Tastings keep your brand top of mind by making your brands’ sales velocity and customer satisfaction strengths more visible.
New Distribution
The same is true in terms of new distribution; tastings can be a great tool for sales to use to increase distribution for proven brands, not just new brands.
Increase Visibility
Brands sponsoring tastings are the ones that are going to get the floor displays.
Increase Volume
Moving boxes is the name of the game. In one program we ran we increased average sales per store 16X the day of the event. That’s testimony not only to the program, but the quality of staff training and retailer commitment.
Repeating Events Tell a Stronger Story
Scheduling a series of events in a given store can dramatically increase the run rate in between events. The retailer will be more receptive to stocking inventory and reordering based on sales in their own store. It’s also a great way for local sales to demonstrate support for your best accounts. Implicit message… “we’re here to help you.”
Scaling Perception into Reality
A good goal is to achieve a 30% conversion rate…30% of the people tasting, purchased product. And depending on the price point, that conversion rate can often be in multiple bottles purchased.
In fact, we executed this particular promotion in what we considered second tier markets, and the conversion rates there reached almost 60%. Clearly, showing a little love can pay off in spades. The same point is true in terms of bottles purchased/event. Where we had corporate chain support we nearly doubled the average number of bottles sold per event.
Bottom line, there’s a lot of great new promotion ideas out there, but in the wine and spirits business, getting customers to put the product in their mouth is the most effective sales promotion tool in our arsenal.