Holiday Experiences

The Importance of Immersive Holiday Experiences

With a successful harvest now behind us, it’s time to focus on our customers’ needs and wants for the holiday season.  While most retailers have been planning for months for this all-important period, it’s not too late for us to come up with the kinds of experiences we offer in our tasting rooms that will create and cement customer loyalty.

In 2015, US retail sales saw a moderate growth of 3%, despite unforeseen weather events and a soft retail environment. But the biggest spike was during the holiday season, where sales grew by 9%.  As much as 40% of yearly US sales come during the critical holiday season, a huge chunk of the yearly revenue pie.  “We know that holiday shoppers want “immersive experiences” in retail,” says the Epsilon Holiday Survey.

The 2016 Epsilon Holiday Shopping survey found that 87% of holiday shoppers are still very likely to purchase at stores this year, according to information obtained by Alliance Data. Furthermore, 16% of revenue is at risk (on average) by the retailer due to poor customer experience, according to a 2015 study conducted by LoyaltyOne.

“Retailers need to commit to providing an outstanding in-store experience,” if they are to stand out from the crowd, said Epsilon authors in their report.  54% of respondents in the Alliance Data Loyalty study said they are loyal to brands that provide a great shopping and purchasing experience. Moving on, 56% of them said they would recommend those brands to their friends and family.

How are we engaging with our customers?  The Alliance Data survey says: “Explore ways to showcase the latest innovations and products, connecting to customers in more relevant and meaningful ways. Provide them a place to interact and engage with family and friends. Create the moments that will make their path to discovery and purchase more interesting.”

So let’s think of ourselves as retailers for a few minutes and see what lessons we can learn from their research.  We know that we have passed the industrial economy and even the technological economy, and are now in the Experience Economy.  The idea is that work is theater and every business is a stage. That may a stretch for some businesses, but it is custom-made for the wine industry.  Customers want memorable experiences.   They also want you to help solve their entertaining problems.  Here are a few ideas to consider as you review your holiday plan:

  • Our customers will love us if we can help entertain their out-of-town relatives. The long Thanksgiving weekend is a great opportunity for us to find a way to get Uncle Fred and Aunt Edith out of the house.  Offer choices of tours and tastings to keep them entertained and win the hearts of our loyal fans.
  • Hold a Holiday Open House with options for the kids. Is there a tree they can help decorate?  Color paper snowflakes?
  • Make the tasting room available after hours to rent for holiday wine parties.
  • Offer blending seminars for work colleagues and groups of friends.
  • Showcase our local providers for food pairings or wreath making, and let them do the work.

And let’s be mindful of how each of us in our role as tasting room host behind the bar influences our customers. The LoyaltyOne study goes on to say: In addition, 83% of consumers said an exceptional salesperson gives retailers a big advantage. Yes, people buy more easily if they like you!  If they like you and believe in you they are more likely to buy and buy more.

How will we stand out from the crowd this holiday season and capture the hearts and wallets of our customers?  Let’s find new ways to provide that oasis of delight during this hectic time of year.  It’s Show Time!