The wine industry needs to reconnect with the average consumer

By / Magazine / November 19th, 2019 / 26

A great deal has been written recently postulating how the wine industry better connect with consumers. Quite frankly, I find this a little annoying.

I am not denying that it is important for the wine industry to relate to consumers and understand their behaviour such as their purchasing decisions. My issue is that the industry no longer seems to strive to make wine accessible to consumers.

Without question, the industry needs to reconnect with the average consumer. However, the industry should focus on why and how it lost touch in the first place. I believe that several contributing factors resulted in a general, perhaps unintentional, highly inappropriate disdain for the consumer.

Let’s start with the proliferation of wine speak, which has raised the pretension metre to DEFCON 1. Terms such as “medium minus” or discussing the PH of a wine may be fine in an industry context but create a bombastic barrier for most consumers.

Then we have the mass marketing of generic, sugar-laden cola wines. As wine became more mainstream, producers took advantage (some might say they saw a business opportunity) by offering wines that appeal to the North American palate’s general affinity for sweetness. Many in the industry then decided, erroneously, that this was the only style of wine that the average consumer was interested in drinking.

And how about the fact that many wine producers participate in wine trade events yet send their marketing reps to consumer events. This fails to recognize basic human nature, and marketing 101 — a pull strategy is often more effective than a push strategy.

And do not even get me started on restaurant wine lists that are either dumbed down with generic plonk or pretentiously packed with wines that are weird for the sake of being weird (and often faulty), regardless of their quality.

The wine industry only stands to benefit by allowing consumers back in. Accessibility, education without condescension and transparency should be the rule, not exceptions. Storytelling, genuineness, championing quality and personal connection are not outdated concepts. It is time to reconnect.


Editor-in-chief for Quench Magazine, Gurvinder Bhatia left a career practising law to pursue his passion for wine and food. Gurvinder is also the wine columnist for Global Television Edmonton, an international wine judge and the president of Vinomania Consulting. Gurvinder was the owner/founder of Vinomania wine boutique for over 20 years (opened in 1995, closed in 2016) which was recognized on numerous occasions as one of the 20 best wine stores in Canada. Gurvinder was the wine columnist for CBC Radio for 11 years and is certified by Vinitaly International in Verona Italy as an Italian Wine Expert, one of only 15 people currently in the world to have earned the designation. In 2015, Gurvinder was named by Alberta Venture Magazine as one of Alberta’s 50 Most Influential People. He is frequently asked to speak locally, nationally and internationally on a broad range of topics focussing on wine, food, business and community.

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