Way back in college, I took a marketing class that started at the unholy hour of 8 a.m., which might as well have been three o’clock in a morning for a college student who tried very hard to hoot with the owls at night and fly with the eagles during the day.
But the professor was interesting and the subject matter fascinating—enough to keep this kid awake for an hour and a half at a time. It was based on one simple premise: Any product can sell if it is marketed correctly.
That leads me to my recently concluded vacation to the wine country of Napa Valley, Calif., where I had the opportunity to tour and taste my way through about a dozen wineries over three days. At each stop, the operators laid out an intense “rifle” marketing approach, trying to convince me and the people in my group, one at a time, that their wines were just a tad better and a bit more exclusive than the guy down the street—or, in this case, the vineyard around the bend.
Frankly, it is an easy sell, which is surprising for a product where, to the uninformed, there is not much difference in taste from brand to brand.
But the wineries create a difference and they create a demand. Through impressive marketing programs, each winery has developed its own take on their products, using a spiffy combination of packaging, labeling, pricing and ingredients to get consumers to spend some pretty hefty dollars for a bottle of wine. Heck, one winery said that one of its brands featured rock, leading one of the more inquisitive people in my group (that would be me) to ask them exactly what does rock taste like.
The point, of course, is that many consumers are eagerly searching for the right item to enhance their lives, and not only does price not matter, sometimes the higher priced item is the more popular one.
Suppliers and retailers need to key in on this trend, particularly when it comes to packaging and pricing. The bottom line is that consumers can be swayed toward buying anything. It’s our job to get them excited enough about the product on the shelf to add it to their basket on the way out of the store.