Friday, November 7, 2008

Amazon Does Wine

Just one issue ago (Nov. 15, 2008) Wine Spectator magazine carried a full-page article about Amazon soon getting into the wine business. Yesterday, in an Amazon shipment we received, was a brochure for a new “Amazon” wine club (actually from a company called 4 Seasons).

There are many such wine clubs around – offering a mixed “surprise” case of wine every few months. We have a wine-savvy friend who participated in one of the early clubs for years, and mostly enjoyed the wines. These clubs can be tempting, as a way to build a wine education without too much effort. The Wall St. Journal is currently heavily promoting such a club.

Personally, we aren’t all that impressed, as every time we research the wines offered in the introductory shipment, they consist of unknown labels. We feel we’d rather grab a dozen new wines from the shelves of our local retailer that we might have a clue about, rather than a dozen unknowns. The per-bottle prices seem similar between the wine clubs and “affordable” retail wines – roughly $10-15 per bottle.

But as the Wine Spectator article noted, Amazon is “the 800-pound gorilla,” and as such could bring huge resources to mail-order wine sales. Our guess is the new Amazon wine club is a way to test the waters with current Amazon customers. We know a fair amount about direct-mail promotion and marketing, and there are very specific conversion rates that equate to “success” in a direct-mail campaign, whereupon a company might continue with a roll-out of a new product or service.

If you’re interested is seeing what Amazon is offering, go to this site.

Treasures from a recent wine-tasting vacation