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Reviving The French Wine Market Will Take Creativity.

wines-classifiyingWhat has to be done to revive the French presence among wine drinkers, says Vinexpo, are new, breakthrough ideas in wine merchandising. With that in mind, Vinexpo commissioned Sopexa, the international marketing and communications agency with offices in 40 countries, to study the “most interesting merchandising applications in the nine countries that represent two-thirds of total wine consumption in the world”: France, Great Britain, Italy, Spain, Japan, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and the USA.

Sopexa considered 3,000 wine merchandising programs, of which it selected 300 for further examination. Of these 300, 50 will be presented at Vinexpo 2003 in Bordeaux (June 22-26).

Here are a few of the merchandising programs. See if any fit your retailing operation:

1. Moving even further away from classifying wines by grape or region, New York-based retailer Best Cellars classifies its entire stock by taste and style. Terms like “fizzy,” “fresh,” “juicy,” and identify their wines (there are eight classifications in all), “helping [consumers] choose the right wine for any food, mood or occasion.” And to make the choice even easier, the stores carry only 100 wines, none more than $15 a bottle. It’s hard to imagine how wine-buying could be more user-friendly. Founded in 1996, Best Cellars now numbers six stores–and growing.

2. In Luxembourq, the Super De Boer chain uses numbers and letters to identify the basic qualities of their wines. Whites and roses are identified on a scale of 1 to 6 according to their sugar level–from very dry to very sweet. Reds are codified from A to E–from light and fruity (A), to supple and round (B), to powerful (C), and so on. Mobiles above the shelves and case stackings identify the wines, with the codes repeated on the price labels.

3. Using Sephora perfume emporiums as its model, Lavinia, France’s largest wine megastore, three stories tall in the heart of Paris, offers a dramatic display of bottles surrounding the “wine organ” at the center. Coupled with fine wood furnishing and in-store tastings to entice shoppers, Lavinia has one other distinction: Thirty percent of its wines are imports (so the French do drink imported wine), and 40 percent of its customers are tourists. Lavinia also has stores in Madrid and Barcelona.

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