We all probably know a wine snob or two. (Perhaps you are one.) But we’ve all observed the aura of sophistication and faux pageantry that seems to accompany the selection of the proper wine.
(You know, the selection usually made by the suave movie hero just before leaps to a chandelier and swings across the room to disarm an evil spy who is about to bump off the guest of honor.)
Chances are, he chose his wine by carefully perusing the wine list, examining an elegant bottle, checking its vintage and place of origin, and swishing a small sample around his educated palate.
As it turns out, quite a few folks out there in the real world use a significantly simpler method of choosing a wine. They look for the gorilla on the label. Or the frog. Perhaps even the dinosaur.
Research recently released by ACNielsen shows that critters are coming on strong in the wine aisle. Sales results reveal that new brands featuring a “critter” on the label outperform other new table wines by more than two to one.
There are a number of theories to explain this, but to me it is fairly obvious—a great many wine customers aren’t interested in playing the “sophistication” game, and will just choose a wine that seems like fun. They’ll go for one that, figuratively speaking, is more likely to lick your face than to check your pedigree.
Take a peek on your next trip to the wine aisle; there seems to be a new competition afoot to see who can offer the most friendly, casual, and irreverent name and label, with generous use of cartoons, whimsical wordplays, and the like.
I remember that freshly out of college, my wife and I used to host an annual “Ripple, Please—Believe It or Not—Cheap Wine Party.” Prizes were awarded not only for the best “value” wine unearthed, but also for the most entertaining name and label. One year, top honors went to a bottle with a small plastic bull suspended from its neck. (We were unsophisticated ahead of our time, I guess.)
The critter fixation makes a fun story, but there is a point hidden inside. For how many years did legions of customers simply avoid the wine aisle, or at least dread the trip there, feeling intimidated, ignorant, or just confused? And what marketer finally realized it and said, ‘hey, maybe they’d just like something fun!”
Maybe it’s just a niche market, maybe not. But it is clear that a great many potential customers were long ignored, just because nobody apparently asked them right questions.
I believe it’s even more prevalent in B2B marketing, where there may be a greater tendency to take our customers’ wants for granted. (“Research? We don’t need no stinkin’ research.”) We are so confident that we understand all the factors influencing their businesses that we don’t even bother to ask them.
It might be time to ask. It may not lead you to put leopards on your new line of lift trucks or llamas on your law firm’s stationary. But it just might reveal some other kind of insights you can tap to reach more potential customers in their natural habitats.