Robus has harnessed the power of points by doing away with the related baggage.
As he puts it, “ there’s no review, no critic involved, this is point pure and simple, just the way the consumer likes it!”
When asked about the need for additional promotional material, Robus simply shook his head, glancing at me like a frustrated professor. It was obvious that I simply did not get the concept, so he continued his explanation.
Photo courtesy Dinner Series via Flickr/CC
The wines, there are four at this point, are all being sold under the 99 Points moniker, though Robus has already responded to criticism in the marketplace by commissioning designs for his next wine: 88 Points! Red and White. As Robus explains:
“You have to very careful how you play the market. People who are buying generic wine don’t want to be seen as being snooty. I mean folks might take these boxes home (the 88 Points! line of wines will debut in the new 22 liter bag in box format) and serve them to their friends who will take one look at a 99 Points! Wine and think their friend has hit the lottery or something!”
In order to avoid the stress that might result from such a misconception, Robus choose the 88 Points! moniker, and the 22 liter format. This allows for a pricing program that equates to $4 per liter, or “always only a dollar a point!” as the 88 Points! marketing material lays it out. While reviewing the marketing material with Robus, I learned that a Chinese version is in the works for 88 Points! Wines, because “the Chinese, they love their eights!”
It sounds like an exciting time to be in the wine business, though as with any business, even wine is ultimately about the Benjamins.
Speaking of pricing, I asked Robus about the pricing of his 99 Points! Wine and while he was obviously a little hesitant to set the prices for his wines, he did say that they were the least expensive 99 Points! Wines in the marketplace, “selling for a fraction of other 99 point wines.” A brief check of the online shopping site Thoons.com revealed a variety of prices for the 99 Points! Wines, generally ranging between $19 and $79 per bottle. When asked about this disparity of pricing, Robus just shrugged and blamed it on the aggressive discounting that is part of their roll out plans.
While a single case of 99 Points will run a retailer $600, even smaller drops see discounting of 5% on 10 cases, 20% on 50 cases, all the way up to 110% on 1000 cases. When I pointed out that this in effect is a rebate to stores that can take such volume, Robus replied that they would be making it up on volume, but that the real underlying strategy at work is to have stores tie up all their storage with 99 Points! Wine so that other products would have to give up the valuable shelf space.