Marketing 101 for Beer, Wine, and Spirits Retailers: How to Drive
Customers to your Front Door
Everyone knows that a carefully selected wine can make an ordinary meal into a dining
experience. But oftentimes relying on common knowledge isn’t enough to drive sales to
your door. Beer, wine, and spirits retailers must be as aggressive and innovative in their
marketing techniques as any other retailer—and sometimes more. Consumers frequently
see beer, wine, and spirits as commodity-level products, and as such focus on details such
as proximity to home or office when choosing a retail location. In order to drive
customers to your front door you must, 1. Speak to a specific audience, 2. Draw
customers to your door with an enticing offer, and 3. Give them a reason to return.
Speaking to a Specific Audience
Imagine moving to a new town. Chances are your move is the culmination of an extended
process that includes finding a new job, finding a new place to live, and leaving familiar
routines behind. New movers are typically excited, but often arrive at their new homes
tired, frustrated, and confused. Unpacking is tedious, they are unfamiliar with their
surroundings, and they often feel out of touch with both their friends and the world.
Believe it or not, these new movers represent a perfect potential market. New movers are
unfamiliar in their new surroundings, and are eager to establish new routines with local
businesses. So, why not send each new mover a note welcoming them to the community
with an enticing product offer? Simply by reaching out to new members of your
community, you are well on your way to establishing a new and loyal customer
It works like this: When you send new movers your welcome note, include a coupon
offering a free bottle of wine, free 12-pack of beer, or free bottle of spirits. Not a “buy-
one-get-one free” or a “discounted price” offer, but a genuine, no-strings-attached free
gift to welcome your new mover. Ensure that, every time a customer enters your
establishment and purchases product using one of these coupons, they will be treated
exceptionally well and offered advice about local restaurants, live entertainment, and
community amenities. That way, not only will the customer receive a free sample of your
store’s product, he will come to think of your establishment as a part of his new
community, and a friendly part of his new daily routine.
One important side note: don’t skimp on the free gift. Don’t welcome your new
customers to town by offering them a 40oz. bottle of malt liquor or a box of table wine.
Select high-end domestic or imported brews, well-respected bottles of wine, renowned
spirits—or surprise your new customer with a gift certificate good for $15.00 of store
merchandise. A customer isn’t going to remember a free six-pack of low-end domestic
beer. He will, however, remember a free six-pack of imported stout or ale, or a gift
certificate that allows him to choose whatever he wants.
It may seem counterintuitive to give away inventory with no promise that a new mover
will become a loyal customer. But chances are that if your clerks are helpful, your store is
friendly and clean, and your shelves are stocked with a wide selection of products, the
$15.00 bottle of wine that you gave away will turn into a $15.00 bottle of wine a week for
years to come. Additionally, loyal customers tend to pass on information about their
favorite stores to friends and family, creating more business and bringing in new
customers. And, just like that, you have your return on investment.
Giving Them a Reason to Return
So a new customer just passed through your retail location, was awarded a free bottle of
his favorite wine, and chatted briefly with the store clerk regarding local entertainment
and cuisine. You’ve done all you can do to encourage him to become a repeat customer,
While an enticing offer and superior customer service are important parts of creating
loyal customer relationships, beer, wine, and spirits retailers need to take a more
proactive role in driving customers to their front door. How do you do this? Easy.
Next time a customer passes through your store with a new mover coupon, ask him or her
to fill out a card with their name and email address as you are offering them advice about
their new surroundings. Explain that their email address will only be used to send special
offers and information about discounted products in your store from time to time, and
that their address will be kept private and away from spammers.
Now, use these addresses to create a customer database of loyal patrons. Do you see sales
slump on Tuesdays? Examine your inventory and send out a special offer to your
customers valid only for that Tuesday afternoon. Did you just receive a shipment of
Newcastle Brown Ale or Yellow Tail Chardonnay? Send your customers a special offer
on the products you have in stock.
Suddenly you have become perhaps the most proactive beer, wine, and spirits retailer in
town! You no longer wait quietly for customers to visit your store- you actively recruit
them, entice them, impress them, and give them a reason to come back to visit you, again
and again. You have become an integral part of the community for a large number of new
movers, and a trusted part of many customers’ daily routines.