Good service boosts tasting room sales

03/07/2014 08:54:00 AM
Vicky Boyd

tasting room salesCourtesy Cornell UniversityProviding a good experience in a tasting room can boost sales, according to two Cornell University studies.Like most other businesses, winery tasting rooms can benefit from good customer service.

The findings of two studies conducted by Cornell University examined how tasting room experiences affected customer purchases, according to a news release.

That's important, considering nearly 60 percent of New York wine sales are during tasting room visits.

The first study, led by Miguel Gómez, an assistant professor of applied economics and management, and Marin Shapiro, a former Cornell student, surveyed 450 Finger Lake winery visitors in nine tasting rooms during four months.

They looked at 25 aspects of customer experiences, from elbow room at the counter to staff friendliness and prices.

“You can make a customer happy or unhappy by the service you provide and the ambience you create,” Gomez said in the release. “Those factors were more important than quality or price of the wines as drivers of customer satisfaction."

The second study, co-authored by Anna Katharine Mansfield, an assistant professor of enology at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, tested the effect of different descriptors on tasting sheets.

The words described the taste and aroma of the wines. They alternated between two tasting sheets during six weeks and tracked sales.

The researchers found sales were decreased when the tasting rooms provided sensory descriptions, such as "notes of peach or lychee."

They suspect the words may even frustrate the novice wine taster by setting up sensory expectations that are not met.

Instead, both studies concur that, "Relying on the staff as guides can create an intimate and more interactive experience,” and thereby increase wine sales, Mansfield said in the release.

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