Morrisons in aggressive war against wine rivals

08 October, 2012

Morrisons has vowed to add £100 million to its wine sales in the next three years as part of an aggressive challenge to rivals.

It is overhauling its wine range, doubling its offering from 550 bottles to 1,100, and investing in a new transactional wine web- site that will launch within weeks.

Simon Harrison, strategy partner at Morrisons, said wine is the chain’s biggest category and he believes the site will be “trading higher than Naked Wines were after the first year”.

Morrisons Cellar will sell mixed cases of six or 12 bottles and this will be the first time the supermarket has sold any type of grocery online, demonstrating its new commitment to growing wine.

The supermarket also plans to focus on simplifying how it ranges its wines and making it easier for consumers to find wines to suit their tastes.

His team surveyed 10,000 consumers and decided shoppers are afraid to try new wines due to fear of disappointment and because they find descriptions of wines “gobbledegook”.

Morrisons has adopted Taste Test, an algorithm owned by Bibendum that was previously trialled by Waitrose, which helps shoppers understand their palates, finds them wines they will like and encourages trading up.

Visitors to the site will answer three non-wine questions based on drinking habits and how much they like salt and sweeteners, and they will be given a score that tells them if their palate likes sweet, fresh, smooth or intense wines.

Harrison said: “The idea is to get people wines that are right for them. It’s 98% accurate if you answer the three questions honestly and we offer a money back guaran- tee if you don’t like the wine.

“We don’t think there are any rights or wrongs in terms of wine. If you like a sweet wine, there’s nothing wrong with that: 30% fit into the sweet category but only 10%-15% of the wines in the UK cater to that, and we wonder why people are leaving wine and starting to experiment with fruit ciders.

“The principle of retail is making things easy to buy and complicated language about things like hints of liquorice doesn’t help consumers – but Taste Test will make it easy by giving them wines suited to their tastes.”

Delivery is free, and the Taste Test system will be rolled out in-store in the spring.

“We are testing having wine sections laid out in shelves based on Taste Test scores, from nought to 12, rather than by colour then country then price,” said Harrison.

“That way if you like a wine you will like the wine next to it, above it and below it.

“It’s a bit out there, a bit edgy, but we are confident this Taste Test system will work and help me achieve my £100 million challenge.”

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