Oddbins shows alternative to price promotions

Oddbins’ move away from price promotions is proving a success and encouraging consumers to try new wines in a more thoughtful way, according to buyer Ana Sapungiu.

K-TownSpeaking to the drinks business at the UK retailer’s portfolio tasting in London, she highlighted a current average price per bottle of £9, saying: “We’re really, really pleased. All our work during the last two years of moving away from price promotions has really paid off.”

In particular Sapungiu welcomed the accuracy with which the 10,000 entrants in this year’s consumer blind tasting competition “The Palate” – one of several initiatives to engage the retailer’s customer base – guessed the price of wines in their glass.

In addition to this evidence for shopper’s awareness of how much a wine is really worth, she noted the improved opportunity for encouraging them to try new wines once the distraction of discount deals was removed.

“Because we don’t do price promotions, we have the flexibility to get people to try new things and think a little bit more,” Sapungiu told db. “I think people are sometimes a bit bored of the same old thing and it’s our job to offer that point of difference on the shelves.”

As for the most popular consumer discoveries, she suggested: “There’s a real desire to try moderately aromatic wines like Albariño or Picpoul.” Meanwhile for reds Sapungiu said: “I’ve been really please to see how people have reacted to our Portuguese wines, not just the Alentejo but Dão and the Douro.”

Although Oddbins continues to offer price promotions on its beer, Champagne and spirits ranges, Sapungiu stressed there were now “hardly any” for the still wine collection, with the exception of “a handful” a Christmas.

As for the retailer’s ability to compete with supermarkets, she remarked: “We are so much smaller but at the same time we have to offer everything.” For popular styles such as Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio, Sapungiu said: “I try to find the best of the region and producers who share our ethos.”

While Oddbins’ prices start at £5.75, she pinpointed the £7-£15 price bracket as key, adding: “That’s where I can go out and find some really exciting wines.”

Sapungiu also outlined her work to create different tiers to the range: a “retail core” which is augmented by “selected and small availability” wines, distributed on allocation. On top of these, she highlighted the “fine wine, one-off parcels”, which are put into all stores once a year and “keep the range dynamic.”

Since it was bought out of administration in 2011 by the EFB Group, Oddbins has scaled back operations to 34 stores across the UK, focused primarily on London. Rather than seek to expand this collection, the retailer has just embarked on a refurbishment programme across its estate. Meanwhile its website relaunched two months ago to include new features such as food matching and winemaker profiles.

Although suggesting it was too early to see the effect of this website overhaul on online sales, Sapungiu told db: “Our intention is to make it quite a big part of our business. We only have 34 stores so it helps us to cover the ground we can’t reach.”

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