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Promotion Strategies that Increase Wine Sales in Restaurants

Promotion Strategies that Increase Wine Sales in Restaurants

To increase wine sales, restaurants can suggest five specific wines, pair food with one or three wines, and offer wine tastings

Offering high margin wines can increase the sales of wines in restaurants by appealing to many customers

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Wansink, Brian, Cordúa y Cruz, Ed Blair, Collin Payne, and Stephanie Geiger Oneto (2006). Wine Promotions in Restaurants: Do Beverage Sales Contribute or Cannibalize? Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administrative Quarterly, 47(4) 327–36. doi: 10.1177/001088040629465

For decades, we have been told that drinking one glass of wine a day is good for our health; however, customers at restaurants still prefer beer and liquor. Compared with other alcoholic beverages, wine sales are significantly lower. One reason that wine sales are low is that there are so many wines available that customers are not familiar with. Customers may avoid wine because of the risk of selecting one that they do not enjoy.  New research shows that three risk-reduction strategies can be implemented in restaurants to generate more wine sales.

 Researchers from Cornell University and University of Houston designed a study to assess the effectiveness of the three wine promotion strategies: suggesting specific wines, pairing food with wines and conducting wine tastings. In a 10-week controlled field study in two mid-price chain restaurants in Houston, TX, the researchers set up table tents to test the three strategies, independently. They featured either one, three, or five wines using each promotion method.

 Based on sales during the study the researchers concluded that:

  • Suggesting five specific wines:
    • Increased wine sales by 12% and
    • Increased total restaurant sales by 4%
  • Food and wine pairings with one or three wines:
    • Increased wine sales by 7.6% and
    • Increased total restaurant sales by 21%
  • Offering one wine tasting:
    •  increased full glasses of wine sales by 18.2%
  • Offering 5 wine tastings
    • Increased full glasses of wine sales by 47.3%

If implemented appropriately, all three strategies can contribute to an increase in overall sales. In addition, about 78% of sales came from customers who would ordinarily purchase wine. Therefore, it makes sense for restaurants to promote high-margin wines to increase sales of wine to connoisseurs and non-connoisseurs alike.  

Summary by Vince Wen and Katie Baildon