Category Captain: Alcoholic Beverages: Wine: E. & J. Gallo Winery

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Category Captain: Alcoholic Beverages: Wine: E. & J. Gallo Winery


In 2010, E. & J. Gallo Winery teamed up with a leading supermarket operator to study shoppers’ wine-buying behavior.

During this research, Gallo confirmed that there are four distinct phases -- pre-shop, shop, purchase and post shop -- that affect shoppers’ decisions in-store. By pairing the research findings with Gallo’s proprietary Customer Health Monitor, which listens to hundreds of shoppers every week to learn about their wine-shopping trips, the retailer and Gallo were able to draw deep insights into what a shopper thinks about during each phase of a shopping trip and how to address the shopper’s needs in-store.

The most compelling of these insights revolved around the shopper’s lack of confidence when purchasing wine. Most shoppers are confused in the wine department, and as a result they’ve developed a habit of shopping within one small section of the shelf. Shoppers said they wanted to be able to learn more about wine in-store so they could make more informed choices and reduce the risk of making a “bad choice.”

Leveraging these insights, Gallo and the retailer developed E. & J. Gallo Winery’s “Climb the Vine,” a comprehensive wine education program that considers a shopper’s total path to purchase and aims to grow the entire wine category. This non-branded education and merchandising program is designed to demystify wine shopping, and it incorporates communication throughout each of the four phases of the shopping process.

To ensure wine makes it onto the shopping list, wine is featured in various media, including the local newspaper and the retailer’s circular and website. Once the shoppers are in the in the store, in-store elements -- such as the retailer’s in-store television and circular, and point-of-sales materials -- remind them about the program and educate them on how to taste wine, wine and food pairings, choosing the perfect holiday wine, and more.

To build baskets, wine was cross-merchandised with recipes at seven locations throughout the store. Educational take-home materials built shoppers’ knowledge and helped make them more confident in their wine buying.

After testing this program in one of its divisions, the retailer’s wine sales grew at twice the rate of its competitive market, and the sizable focus items grew at nearly seven times the rate of the competitive market. While the sales trends are impressive, this program was aimed at making the category more approachable for all shoppers. During the time of the program, there was an 18 percent increase in households buying the category and a 55 percent increase in households buying the focus items. The retailer was so impressed with the results that it has expanded the program to run throughout the entire year and plans to roll out the initiative to all of its stores.