Top Tip for Brick and Mortar Businesses: Create an Experience!

Over the past several years, a growing number of wineries, microbreweries, and distilleries have been springing up across the Chippewa Valley where we’re based. It’s a trend that is mirrored in other states around the country, as entrepreneurs seek to address a growing market not simply for alcoholic beverages but for local destination experiences.

Consumers have long been able to buy wine, beer, or spirits at local liquor stores with no discernable lack of brand options available at varying price points. Why, then, are these relatively small players having such a big impact on the economy?

Experiences. Wineries, breweries, and distilleries are selling more than beverages—they’re selling experiences.

Selling Experiences

This is not a new or unique concept. In fact, as far back as 1979, Victor Kiam, who had purchased Remington Products, famously focused not on selling the company’s razors, but on selling a “smooth shave.” The experience. Restaurateurs widely know that, while food is obviously important, diners are often seeking an experience that goes beyond what’s on their plates.

Beyond their beverages, experiences are what our local wineries, microbreweries, and distilleries are selling.

In our area, Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company could be pointed to as starting this trend. Established in 1867, the brewery has been around for 150 years, even surviving Prohibition. Tours and tastings were a mainstay of the brewery, at least as far back as my memory serves. In 2003, Leinie Lodge was built and has become a popular destination for locals and visitors alike. Yes, beer is sold and consumed at Leinie Lodge. But, it’s not necessarily just the beer that brings visitors in the door—it’s the experience.

Positioning Post-Pandemic

Marketers refer to selling experiences as “experiential marketing.” Larry Alton, writing for allBusiness, said: “Experiential marketing, as defined by those in the industry, is a form of advertising that focuses on helping consumers experience a brand. Instead of being sold a product or service based on features, they’re directly involved and engaged.” It’s the kind of marketing that allows hometown breweries like Leinenkugel’s to compete with (and, sometimes be bought by) larger breweries. The kind of marketing that draws visitors to local wineries and distilleries for tastings—even though the products sold are readily available elsewhere.

It’s also the kind of marketing that can help position small local retailers effectively against behemoths like Walmart. That’s especially important post-pandemic as many more consumers become familiar with the online buying experience. Retailers wishing to lure customers back to their physical store locations need to come up with ways to compete. Providing exceptional experiences can help.

Walmart doesn’t really provide much of an “experience” — it competes based on price. The opportunity for small businesses that sell the same types of products that Walmart sells is to consider what kinds of experiences could boost the perceived value of their products to effectively position them as a go-to destination.

How could you provide an experience that would drive traffic to your brick-and-mortar location?

About Us

Strategic Communications, LLC, works with B2B clients to help them achieve their goals through effective content marketing and management with both internal and external audiences. We work with clients to plan, create and publish high-quality, unique content. Whether on- or offline, or both, we’ll help you achieve desired results.

(Strategic Communications is certified as a Woman-Owned Business Enterprise through the Wisconsin Department of Administration.)

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