The Grapevine

Black is White: The Value of Being Contrary in Wine Shop Marketing

October 19th, 2016

I almost feel guilty writing this in what is perhaps the most unpleasant political campaign in many of our lifetimes, but the campaign actually proves the point, however unpleasantly: being provocative can be profitable. [level-members]

Now, being downright offensive to large swaths of your potential audience is not going to do your business any favors, but staking out an opinion that goes against the conventional wisdom can get you positive attention.

And there’s no need to be offensive about it. This came to mind when I saw a Bloomberg article titled, “It’s Time to Give High-Alcohol Wines a Chance at the Dinner Table.”

I would imagine that an online search for that topic would turn up a thousand articles against high-alcohol wines before you got to one in favor.

That contrariness catches your attention immediately. And even if you’ve walked your premise back a bit from your attention-grabbing headline, you’ve still grabbed attention.

You can’t completely backtrack – people don’t respond well to bait-and-switch – but you can qualify your position. As in, high-alcohol wines aren’t for everyone, and they may not pair with as many dishes as lower-alcohol wines, but they still have their place at the table.

Of course, this works best if you aren’t just out there trolling for topics on which to be controversial, and if you don’t make controversy a regular habit. We all recognize bluster as schtick. But if you really believe in something that isn’t the conventional wisdom – or that the conventional wisdom isn’t asking the right questions – you can make great marketing out of standing apart from your competitors.