In “The Age of Speed”, Why Hand Selling Wine is Getting So Much

  • There are so many discussions going on in the wine industry about competition, promoting and marketing wine, exchange rates, and a hundred other issues that importers, distributors, and wine shop staff are faced with, that it is hard to count them all. Last night I was looking for a packet of material and saw a book that I had read nearly 4 years ago. The title is “The Age of Speed” (by Vince Poscente) that outlines how to learn to thrive in a More-Faster-Now World! Poscente views the world through the eyes of the consumer and explain how they are stressed by life because their approach to the ever increasing speed of life is wrong. I can only see things as having gotten worse not better in the past 4 years in terms of the faster paced lives we live. In all those discussions, few wine industry people seem to focus on the consumer. You remember that person, the one who actually buys the wine. What is happening to the consumer and how is life and technology changing them? I saw a commercial on TV two evenings ago that showed a car (the first ever) can be “a hotspot” for all consumer devices. Even at 70 mph racing down the highway a person can stay connected. Do most consumers even have time to be “hand sold” a bottle of wine? Yes competition for floor space, staffing requirements, and the sheer number of unknown wines creates a problem for wine shop owners in the number of wines that they can hand sell. But most of all, the consumer has to have the time to listen to the “story” by wine shop staff for the sale to happen at all. Any American probably has a hundred of their own stories about themselves, their family, and their friends and neighbor that validate my contention that our lives are all terribly rushed. More and more surveys are showing that consumers are much more interested in consumer reviews than what the experts are saying. Right or wrong, many consumers are highly suspicious of “expert” opinions. Where will they get those “consumer reviews”? They will go to their circle of friends in their social networks. They can “zip” into a wine shop…look for the “newest” recommendations by their friends and zip out, only to continue their rush headlong through the remainder of their day. Importers try to brand their portfolio of wineries and their wines to distributors, as well as wine shops and restaurants. For the established names, it is not so much of an issue. Yet the consumers are looking for something different. The hope is that these industry people can hand sell the unknown wines to their customers, but if the customer doesn’t have time to “be sold”, what happens then?