How to Bottle Loyalty


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There is a wine store around the corner from my house that my husband and I visit more than we do the supermarket. I’d say at least two times a week.

True, one reason for all of our visits is because we like wine and bourbon very much (apparently as much as food, because the bills are about the same). But that doesn’t explain the repeat drop-ins. Fact is, we really like going there. Sometimes, I’ll buy only a half-week’s worth of wine since I know it will give me a reason to return on Wednesday.

Yes, you got it: The service is good old-fashioned awesome. The manager has gone out of his way to contact distributors on our behalf and track down labels his store doesn’t carry. He’s given us the skinny on incoming bourbons that he thinks we may like, and if we taste a wine and then buy it, we get a discount.

So I didn’t hesitate to sign up when the shop launched an online members club, or loyalty plan. At least someone would be tracking my purchases, I thought. And I might even get an invite to a special tasting.

But the best service I saw to date involves an item I haven’t purchased in more than 20 years: cigarettes. Turns out a national price increase went into effect and when that happens, retailers do not get an advance warning. The increase ranged from $1 to $4 a carton.

So I got an email, as did all the other people on the shop’s membership list, warning of the price increase. It was Friday. The increases went into effect that day, but the store owner said he’d hold his prices until Monday. Nice gesture, but then he took it a step further: If customers couldn’t make it over the weekend, they could email him their orders and he’d hold them for up to 14 days.

Wow! Talk about a merchant understanding his people. No wonder his shoppers are loyal. I know people who drive miles out of their way to visit this store – one couple ventures a good 20 miles every weekend.

At a time when supermarkets were just cleared to sell wine in my state, this is a major differentiator. My supermarket insists on hiring people who, at check out, hold up a head of red lettuce and ask me, “What’s this?” It’s just giving me reasons to go elsewhere.

And if my little wine store starts selling groceries, that is where I’ll go.

Lisa Biank Fasig
Lisa leads the creation of editorials and feature stories for COLLOQUY and oversees the work of contributing editors and writers. With 18 years of reporting experience, most in business and specifically consumer behavior, she is highly skilled at researching data and teasing out the trends. A background in graphic design enables her to see ideas in three dimensions and tell the story visually.


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