by Jack Baldwin
New research has shown that a visit to a winery’s cellar door has a lasting effect on consumer behavior, influencing their buying habits for months afterwards. The Ehrenberg-Bass Institute tracked behavior of more than 3,300 visitors to 79 cellar doors across Australia over a six-month period. The results reveal the power of the cellar door in promoting a winery or region’s brand. During the six-month period after a cellar door visit, the buyer group (54 percent of visitors) bought an average of 9.1 bottles of the winery’s wine, and the likelihood of making future purchase is 4 percent on average. Most importantly, 16 percent of cellar door visitors who had never bought the brand before began buying it after a visit — this gain can be directly attributed to the cellar door visit and experience. Reasons for not buying wine include already having a stock at home (25 percent), preference for other wine brands or styles (20 percent), and non-availability of the wines at their usual retail outlet (15 percent).
After a cellar door visit, most wines are bought from large liquor chain stores (33 percent), but visitors also revisit cellar doors and buy wine (23 percent). The cellar door channel (including mail order and wine clubs) made up 3 percent of wine purchases. Members of wine clubs buy 2.5 times more wine than non-members — about 15 percent of visitors to a cellar door were members of its wine club.
By the time six months had passed, 47 percent of visitors had consumed all the wine they bought at the cellar door. Sixty-eight percent consumed it at home.
A cellar door visit also changes patterns of wine consumption in consumers, encouraging consumption of higher quality and more expensive wines. Consumers were more likely to consume wine from the visited region and their general consumption rose significantly.
The power of word-of-mouth is also increased by a positive visit to a cellar door. Eighty-three percent of consumers who visited a cellar door recommended a visit to friends, family or work colleagues within three months of visiting, an average of 3.4 times.
Lead researcher Professor Johan Bruwer from the University of South Australia’s Ehrenberg-Bass Institute said that the research shows a cellar door visit has a much wider impact beyond simply counter sales on the day.
“The question is how powerful is the effect of awareness, tasting and overall experience at a cellar door in influencing future purchase behaviour of that brand. This project provides a measure of that impact across a significant period of time after that visit,” Professor Bruwer said. “The cellar door does something quite special, it can give the brand a good story if those who visit and taste the wine have had a good, authentic and memorable experience. People who visit a cellar door also become more educated about the wine region and this increases the consumption of wines of that origin.