Virgin Wines looks to get even closer to its customers
Consumer engagement will be the main focus for Virgin Wines in the coming year, according to wine buyer, Andrew Baker, speaking at this week's Virgin Wines tasting.
The next 12 months will see a step up in the number of consumer events the online retailer holds. "Tastings are the best route to market," said managing director Jay Wright.
Thirty-five UK consumer tasting events in the lsst year give "validation to insights" said Baker. Its London event at the Waldorf Hotel, for example, received up to 1,500 customers, giving Virgin Wines invaluable consumer data as well as the chance to hear first hand what their customers think of their wines. The challenge is still "getting new customers through the door," confirmed Baker.
Those that do seem to like what they see with "some customers visiting five different locations" to attend Virgin Wine Fairs, added Baker.
Virgin Wines, a subsidiary of Direct Wines, now has a £40m UK turnover. Its 2013 summer press tasting at the London Palladium in Argyll Street, W1 showcased The Summer Discovery Club Selection and Summer First Class Discovery Club Selection, Customer Favourites and New Releases. Top picks from each case were:
Discovery Club Selection: The 'Club' quarterly mixed cases are the staple of Virgin Wines' offer. Aiming to 'make wine buying simple', there are currently 41,000 subscribers.
Campo Bonito, Sauvignon Moscatel 2012, £9.99, 12.5% ABV. Castilla y Leon delivers good value Spanish wines. The pretty label is appropriate, especially for the girls get-together market.
First Class Discovery Club Selection: For those happy to trade up to £8.33 average bottle price, "old favourites" are mixed with new wines from "great winemakers".
Domaine Andre Brunel, Viognier 2012, £10.99, 12.5% ABV. The fragrant, peachy white wine is very on-trend. A tricky grape, tending to blowsiness or greenness, this is a well-made example.
Customer Favourites: Encouraging and promoting customer reviews is becoming essential for wine 'engagement' and Baker confirms, does "influence buyer decisions to some extent".
Ridgeview Fitzrovia Rosé, 2010, £26.95, 12% ABV. Using the Champagne trio of grapes, the Roberts family winery in the South Downs remains the benchmark for top quality UK fizz.
Capcanes Kosher Peraj Petita, 2010, £11.99, 14%. A 'huge red', this Spanish wine is light in the mouth and fresh. Virgin Wines aims to "cater for all niche markets" according to Wright.
New Releases: The category where 'interesting finds' can be highlighted, along with smaller parcels, offers some excellent wines at the higher price and quality end.
La Gitana en Rama, £12.99, 15% ABV. En rama (unfiltered) is now a tick-box essential for Sherry lovers. This Manzanilla version is the perfect aperitif, icy cold, with tapas, preferably in-situ.
Pazo Senorans, Albarino Anada 2005, £34.99, 13% ABV. Higher priced wines gain the exposure and thence sales they deserve "at tastings" says Wright. This is a superb, subtle and elegant white from a top producer. Temporarily bored of white Burgundy? This will hit the spot.
Le Sanglier Sauvage, 2011, £9.99, 13.5% ABV. Virgin Wines' 'man in the Languedoc' Gavin Crisfield "seeks out and works with small growers". Wright says "consumers get the Languedoc". This red is fantastic value and superbly made. Also excellent is La Travesee, 2010, £24.99.