This is the latest in a series of posts that explore how we help wine brands differentiate themselves in the most competitive wine market on the planet.

U.S. trade professionals covet a strong by-the-glass performance…and for good reason. Not only does by-the-glass success mean large volume depletions, in many cases, it also means widespread consumer recognition in diverse regional markets.

While every brand and market is different, below are three tried-and-true methods for success in the cutthroat by-the-glass space.

U.S. trade professionals covet a strong by-the-glass performance…and for good reason. In many cases, it means widespread consumer recognition in diverse regional markets.Click To Tweet

Developing alliances with wholesalers is fundamentally important. Wholesalers have a LOT of brands to offer their customers with the same flavor profile and price point as yours. Nothing moves as quickly and efficiently as a group of well-trained sales reps with lots of territory to cover and newfound excitement about a specific wine. Pinpoint which of your distributors have great portfolios (usually the ones that are well known for a specific category or wine region). They’ll be glad to hear from you, as almost no one calls distributors to offer their help! Treat them to a master seminar, beautifully designed educational materials or complimentary event support, or retail displays and POS to offer to their customers. The next time they have a high-volume placement to make with an influential customer, they’ll be much more likely to place yours. Showing you’re there to help them succeed will make all the difference.

Creating a backbar program may seem daunting and expensive. However, you need an army of consumer-facing evangelists to hand-sell your brand if you want to be the wine people request when they sit down at a bar. Prosecco producers understood this years ago and have reached astonishing global popularity because of it. Keep in mind that no matter how strong a cocktail program is, every single bar in the U.S. has at least three wines offered as by-the-glass pours. Consider a bartender-focused roadshow that offers a sit-down pairing tutorial in key backbar markets such as San Francisco or Austin. Or, enlist an influential bartender to teach hand-selling tactics to their peers (such as converting a customer request for one region or grape into a sale for your wine). You can make their job even easier by offering to give complimentary 1oz. pours for happy hour from your own inventory (where allowed by law). Be the brand bartenders remember, because the majority of the attention they get comes from spirit or mixer brands.

Place your bets on somms. This may seem obvious, but few brands get it right. There’s a science to cultivating relationships with the on-premise wine community. Somms are not a monolithic group. Learn to differentiate between professional backgrounds and educational levels… sommeliers have varying professional interests or values when it comes to wine. Customize your relationship-building approach within these tiers. Most importantly, provide support and create partnerships with up-and-coming and well-liked somms who have not yet solidified an alliance with another brand or region. Taking them on fun educational trips to visit your vineyards, or supporting activities where sommeliers tend to gather (such as TexSom) is vital. The idea is to create a network of sommeliers who will consider your brand a must-have for happy hour or menu rotations, thereby increasing consumer trial.

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