The headlights on nascent automobiles were first seen in the 1880s . Similar to those which had preceded them on the railroad, these acetylene oil lanterns provided 50 feet, or so, of visibility.
With a vehicle chugging along at 25 miles per hour that 50 feet ahead of him provided the driver approximately 1.36 seconds of visibility ahead.
Fast forward into the modern era and low-beam headlights now provide about 160 feet of visibility. With the vehicle travelling at 65 miles per hour the driver has approximately 1.46 seconds of visibility ahead.
Not much has changed.
In over one hundred years of automotive engineering we have improved the ability to the driver to see the road ahead, and react to changes ahead, by one-tenth of a second.
So, has your ability to peer into the foggy road of wine improved?
Growing grapes and its first derivative, wine making, requires the ability to see into the future.
In the recent past, those in agriculture would receive insight from those with technical expertise: the sort of expertise which would say to grow this and to not grow that.
The answer today is increasingly to be found by the interactions with your customers and continuously collecting information. On a daily basis your customers will tell you what they like and what they don’t like with their purchases. Consider:
Social Networking. This is THE way to engage with the millennials. If you are not on Facebook and Twitter on a daily basis you are missing an important avenue to connect with these new wine consumers.
Direct to Consumer Sales. Most wineries think about sales only and staff the tasting room with less than knowlegable staff. Granted: Sales from the tasting room are the way to open the door for interactions with the consumer. Think of this critical face-to-face meeting as your single greatest opportunity to create a life-long customer. But you don't always sell, and if you don't sell you should not pass up this opportunity to gain some insight. Consider collecting one piece of information from each visitor.
Wine Clubs. Once signed up, wine club members retain membership on average for two years. Think: two bottles per month for twenty four months.
Bottom line: Merely keeping up with the competition is not sufficient if you are to grow your business. An aggressive set of strategies is required to connect with, gather information from, and make sales to your customers.