Extravagant tastings, featured specials, and vibrant end cap displays are key ingredients beverage alcohol retailers are working into their promotional holiday mixes this winter. Retailers are utilizing radio commercials, holiday catalogues, email blasts, and social media feeds to drive business. “This is one of the most critical periods for the year, with an emphasis on holiday entertaining and gifts,” says Jeff Zacharia, president of Zachys Wine & Liquor in Scarsdale, New York. “Historically, this period represents nearly 20% of our annual sales.”
Each year, Zachys offers its 12 Days of Christmas Deals, touting fine wines sold at double-digit percentage discounts. The store also holds tastings—including the Champagne Extravaganza tasting on December 7, which featured more than 40 Champagnes and sparkling wines for about 300 customers. “We emphasize wines that are great values and well-rated,” Zacharia says. “We also focus on owners and producers, in which we have close relationships and access to their best offerings.”
The store’s marketing tactics, especially during the holiday season, are crucial. “We actively promote across numerous channels, including paid search, email, social media, digital display, retargeting, and print media,” Zacharia says. “We also have a radio campaign running for the first time in recent history, focused on driving in-store traffic.” The radio campaign is on 107.1 F.M. The Peak in Westchester County, New York with 60 second spots running through December 31. Zachys’ paid search campaigns, meanwhile, run primarily on Google, but also include Bing, while Facebook and Instagram are the store’s main social media channels.
In Connecticut, the six M&R Liquors units—located in Avon, Farmington, Glastonbury, Manchester, South Windsor, and Southington—are focused on their 12 Wines of Christmas promotion, with each store supporting the selection with their own end cap displays. The 12 wines cover a spectrum of domestic and imported taste profiles ranging from $13 for a 750-ml. of 2019 Korta Vineyards Tre Sauvignon to $30 for the same size bottle of 2015 Vineyard Block Estate Block 628 Younville Cabernet Sauvignon. Customers who buy any six of the Wines of Christmas receive a 10% discount, and 15% discounts are applied to purchases of 12 bottles. “They’re all wines we have personally selected and tasted,” says Patti Paul, manager and marketing director at M&R Liquors. “We can stand behind them, and they’re great values. Consumers can mix and match. They don’t have to buy all 12 wines.”
The promotion is publicized on M&R’s website as well as its email list, which reaches 5,000 customers. “People like to try new things and that’s part of the catch, and you save a little money,” Paul says. “The Christmas wine selection has a little bit of everything. We have the 2017 Umberto Fiore Moscato d’Asti ($14 a 750-ml.) in there for people who like it sweet, as well as the nice, dry 2017 Massimo Rivetti Aurelia Langhe DOC Arneis ($20).”
Out West, in Escondido, California, meanwhile, Holiday Wine Cellar has kept a brisk tasting schedule this December, including a Trust Me organic vodka ($27 a 750-ml.) bottle signing with artist Victor Roman, a Crown Royal ($30 a 750-ml. gift pack with two rocks glasses) tasting, and a wine club social featuring Herman Story ($50 a 750-ml.) and Duckhorn ($18-$68) wines.
The store also offers discounts for customers who buy six or 12 bottles, at 10% and 15%, respectively. And customers are allowed to mix wine and spirits within the same order. “As long as the customer gets to a case, they will receive 15% off,” says Kiki Martinez, wine buyer at Holiday Wine Cellar.
Featured products on Holiday Wine Cellar’s website this season include Bollinger Brut Rosé Champagne($88 a 750-ml.), Adictivo Extra Añejo Limited Edition Black Tequila ($116), 2015 Frostwatch Semillon ($24), Coole Swan Irish Cream liqueur ($27), and WhistlePig Piggyback Rye 6-year-old whiskey ($56). “Our featured products are a mixture of popular and boutique,” Martinez says.
At Zachys, a measure of recent growth also comes from special attention paid to its retail floor. “One of our biggest successes this year was how we treat the floor,” Zacharia explains. “We created end displays that are warm and inviting, while saving floor space and creating a more shoppable space. The end displays were built for client critical categories, allowing a greater shopping focus and clear information for the shopper.”
In other actions, Zachys’ 2019 Holiday Signature Selections catalogue includes hundreds of fine domestic and international wines. “We’ve increased our marketing and advertising activities this year, across numerous media channels, partly to take advantage of the robust economy and strong consumer confidence, and also to promote our 75th Anniversary,” Zacharia says. “We had a very strong November, and we expect that activity to continue through the rest of the year.”