Morrisons is to become the first UK supermarket to offer chilled wine deliveries, while pushing forward with its own brand “taste test” labelling system which it says will help build a customer’s confidence, wine repertoire and potential spending power.
Mark Jarman, Morrisons’ head of wine operations
Speaking to the drinks business at a trade tasting of its spring summer range in London yesterday, Laura Sheen, wine buyer for Morrison’s, said the supermarkets online “taste taste” would be key to the future development of its customer buying experience and range, which was relaunched in October last year following the bolstering of the supermarkets wine team.
The “taste test”, in which customers are asked a series of questions to determine their flavour preferences, has seen all of Morrison’s own brand wines categorised as either sweet, fresh, smooth or intense on a numbered scale to help guide buying choices.
Laura Sheen, wine buyer for Morrison’s said: “Its about helping the customer find the right wine got that occasion. If I know I like Sauvignon Blanc then there are a lot of other wines that might also work for me.
“They might not have heard of the grape of the country but the taste test says it would suit their needs.”
She added: “Customers really love wines but they find buying it scary because they are really worried that they are going to buy the wrong products. its an expensive item and they are worried they won’t like it. A lot of wine purchaes are about being safe. The taste test is about allowing them to branch out and explore with confidence.”
Currently Morrison’s in-store wine range is laid out either by country or price, depending on the store, however this too could change in the future.
When asked if their range could soon be laid out based on its taste profile Sheen said to “watch this space”
She said: “It is something on our radar and something we are thinking about. It is difficult working out how to lay out merchandise in store. It has to be right for our customers.”
It’s hoped that by expanding a customer’s ability to select lesser-known wines based on their taste preferences rather than grape or style, will result in a natural “trade up” of wines.
Mark Jarman, head of wine operations, said: “Do we have an aspiration to trade people up? I would say we do have that aspiration but we also want to increase their repertoire. Then they are more likely to spend more anyway. Our taste test achieves that. We intend to help people trade across the category and improve their confidence in wine and what they buy.”
In terms of price Phil Cave, wine category manager, said the store had expanded the proportion of its wine priced under £10 following customer research, adding that the £5 mark was a “sweet spot” for customers.
“That’s an area that we are significantly investing in in terms of the choice across a broad range. A lot of out customers are hard pressed and it is about having an approachable range.
“In terms of supermarkets the average spend has gone up slightly and we are in line with our competitors. On average we break through the £5 barrier.
“As a supermarket we have to follow what out customers want to spend and what they are prepared to spend. With the economy as tough as it is you have to make sure that you have approachable and affordable wines, while making sure you offer a trade up for those who want to spend that much more.”
The supermarket is also systematically reviewing its ranges by country, first focusing on South America and Italy, with the wines of Iberia one of the next regions set to be explored by the Morrison’s wine team.
Further changes have been made to the supermarket’s online wine offerings having recently closed its standalone Morrisons Cellar wine site in favour of combining it with its larger Morrisons grocery site, which launched in 2012, to create a “one stop shop”.
The changes will mean that customers will be able to order an unlimited number of wines, including pre-chilled bottles, with the previous six-bottle limit now removed.
Sheen said: “No-one else is able to deliver chilled wines at the moment. You can order them to arrive within a time slot and have your wines an hour before your guests arrive.
“That’s really exciting. No one else is doing that. We use a dedicated packing facility we can keep it chilled all the way through the supply chain.”