doug bell 20916The Global Beverage Buyer for Whole Foods market, Doug Bell, has acquired and shared with us a unique view of the world of buying and selling wine. We were fortunate enough to be let in on Doug’s secret to what it takes to get on the shelf and noticed by consumers.

What has changed in consumer purchase behavior in the past 12-24 months? Is there a category that is grabbing more attention? (Wine/Beer/Cider/Spirits)?

  • There are increased trends of category cross-shopping amongst Millennial customers  They are buying all beverage categories.
  • All customers are seeking authenticity as well across all beverage. They want to know that the story is REAL.
  • The Retail Customer is trading up, especially in the wine and spirits categories. They want to drink better, even if it means purchasing less
    Which types of brands gain the most attention? Is it the new (non-traditional) brands?
  • All brands are vying for the same beverage shopper-customer. All are fighting for attention and market share.
  • Who gets the most attention? He who barks the loudest… is the dog.

What kind of support do you value from the producers? Is it marketing support? In-market (in-store) presence?

  • As a retailer we value any and all support our suppliers and producers can provide-this includes demo support, IRC’s, off-site tastings and events, sponsorship assistance, social media blasts.

Do you see a regionality of behavior? Does California differ greatly from NY or TX?

  • There is some distinct regionality across all the beverage categories. The Craft beer business is completely driven by this logic that everyone wants “local” or different or unique.

Which price tiers are performing the best?

  • The $15 to $25 price points are on fire. $14.99 is the new $9.99, and $24.99 to $29.99 is the new $15. Our customers are trading up, valuing quality, and authenticity and sense of place and craftsmanship and taste over price.

What do you want to see more of in the months to come from producers? Less of?

  • Would love to see a different approach from producers and suppliers hawking their wares…. slide shows and powerpoints and the same old data that is presented these days is still just as it was presented 20 years ago. The suppliers and producers need to realize that it is going to take more than a shiny new label or a 90 point score to sell a wine to the new consumer. We have to work together to proactively change our business and the way we bring it all to market. Or we are going to have it changed without our say right under our noses.

Doug Bell will be speaking at USBevX session: The Currency of the New Normal: Whole Foods and Legal Sea Foods buyers on what they’re looking for in 2016.
Find out more information on this session or other USBevX Workshops here.