You May Be a Lab Rat

Wine lists presented on tablets, in lieu of traditional leather-bound books, are all the rage in restaurants today—particularly those with extensive lists.

If you’ve dined at an establishment that uses the Tastevin tablet wine list, congratulations! You have something new that you may add to your resumé: lab rat.

Labrador OmniMedia, a team of beverage and software people who produce the Tastevin wine list, have been collecting and analyzing sales data from their beverage list.

It’s certainly a representative sample. Here’s a look at the numbers:

  • 12 of the largest states and market areas in America.
  • 50 accounts.
  • 34 million transactions.

Not all of the data was shared in the press release issued on behalf of Labrador OmniMedia. I can think of a dozen things I’d like to know about consumer purchasing preferences and patterns, but I suppose much of that would be considered “proprietary” information.

Sadly, what was released really wasn’t all that enlightening; it simply backed up what many of us have “known” for years.

The “key insight,” as the press release termed it, involved the use of “artwork.” It seems that when a wine list displays a label for a specific bottling, that bottling sells 29% better than a wine that’s listed without an accompanying label.

That just Marketing 101. If you have to package a product in a box, make sure the box at least has a picture of the product on it.

A 29% difference in sales is huge for any restaurant menu item, particularly a high-margin item such as wine. It’s important information for a restaurant to know and have available.

But here’s what you, as a wine consumer, need to know: Now that a restaurant knows that displaying a label increases purchases, it has the ability to manipulate consumer behavior.

For instance, if a wine on the list isn’t moving well, or if a slot needs to be opened up on the wine rack for an incoming order, a restaurant could display the label of the slow-moving wine and move it out more quickly—presumably, about 29% more quickly.

I’m not suggesting all restaurants with tablet lists would do this. Just be aware that some may.

Posted in Editor's Journal
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