Joe Waechter
May 17, 2012 | Customer Relationship Management (CRM), General | Joe Waechter

Getting to Know Your Customers

Stanley Marcus, who was an early President and later Chairman of the Board of luxury retailer Neiman Marcus, was once quoted as saying:

“Consumers are statistics, customers are people.”

For the wine industry, where the customer experience is vitally important, I think his words are especially meaningful. The customer experience reaches across dozens of different touch points: your product, your packaging, sales, marketing, wine club, retail tier, tasting room, and your staff (not just customer service but rather everyone involved, from your winemaker to your bookkeeper.) And don’t forget third party providers like WineDirect. We’ve been entrusted with your customer experience as well (to deliver your orders with care, provide information via email, to make sure the web experience exceeds their expectations, and to build upon your relationships through Call for Wine.)

Delivering an exceptional experience across all of these different touch points requires a deep understanding of your customers.

There are a lot of great tools and resources available today which allow us to see a broad picture of the typical wine “consumer”. Demographic information is used to understand the average age, gender, and household income of consumers. Transactional data like average order values and products purchased can be analyzed to understand aggregate consumer preferences and behavior. And all of this data can be invaluable, if used in the right way.

But it’s important to remember that customers don’t live in a data warehouse. This brings me back to Stanley Marcus’ quote: “Consumers are statistics. Customers are people.” I think the message in that quote is that in order to deliver a great experience, you need to understand the “people” behind the data, i.e. the individuals who interact with your brand and buy your wine. A solid understanding of the meaning behind the data provides one piece of the puzzle.

The other piece comes from getting to know your customers personally. What are their motivations, goals, and expectations? How do you begin to understand your customers? The easiest way that I know of is to go to them, through whatever channels you can. Talk to them on the phone, in the tasting room, at events, or through social media. After a while, you’ll begin to develop a better understanding of what their needs are and start filling in the rest of the puzzle. Some marketers develop personas as a means of gaining empathy for their customers - remember Constellation Wines’ Project Genome. Personas are a great way to focus and direct the conversation away from analytics and toward what is really important….the customer.


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