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Supermarket wine aisle makeover

Sainsbury’s is undergoing a wine merchandising overhaul to create a “theatre” for its customers, as well as simplifying and tailoring the experience of wine buying. 

The revamp will include the introduction of its new own-label range House, merchandising by style instead of country and a warehouse-style bay where wines will still be packed in cases.

The supermarket told the drinks business that the changes answer the basic needs of four key Sainsbury’s wine customer profiles, all of which have been identified following the combined results of internal research and data from external sources such as Wine Intelligence.

The four wine shopper profiles are Novice, Established, Competent and Confident and over a period of four to six weeks starting in early June, Sainsbury’s will arrange its wine aisles and bays in four distinct areas; Everyday Favourites, Case Deals, New Arrivals/Discovery and Our Cellar.

Julian Dyer, wine buyer for Sainsbury’s, told the drinks business: “Currently, most wine retailers interact in the same way with all customers whether they have high knowledge, low knowledge, confidence or no confidence. With wine, most unconfident customers don’t even get as far as the wine aisle because they’ve made their choices [eg in special offer bays] before they get to the wine aisles.”

Dyer added that it was important not to overcomplicate the wine department but to still “add to the theatre” of buying wine. “Most wine shops are boring,” he continued, “and a supermarket of our size has to rely on fixtures to try to create a book store environment so people know exactly where to go to find what they’re looking for.”

Speaking of House, which will come in a variety of formats including glass, PET and bag-in-box, Dyer said: “These are the home of the best we could find. With these wines, it’s not just a price game. We’re saying that we have the confidence in these wines that they’re a brilliant example of their style.”

As well as the House range, the Everyday Favourites bays will include branded wines, and will be colour coded by style rather than by country in a special effort to assist the Novice and Established customers.

However, defending Sainsbury’s decision to retain the merchandising of its wine by country in the Our Cellar bays, he said: “I fundamentally disagree that you can merchandise all wine by style, merchandising the likes of Chablis, for example by style would be dog’s dinner. Merchandising has to be done in a logical way.”

According to Dyer, the New Arrival bays will “showcase 15 new lines every nine weeks, those which we are most proud of, and especially those in the £7-£12 range,” adding that, “the New Arrival bays will also be an opportunity to highlight some parcels of wines that we’ve sourced.”

Dyer stated that the supermarket has lost 50 lines to streamline its range and to make way for the inclusion of the House range. He concluded: “We’ve just cut out the duplication of styles. We’ve still got 650 lines and that still offers our customers plenty of choice.”

Jane Parkinson, 13.05.2010

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