Seth Godin, Tyler Colman, and Daniel Posner on Wine in New York Grocery Stores

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Strange as it may seem to people in parts of the country where it flows more freely, wine cannot be sold in grocery stores in New York state.  Some are working to change that however, and this has New York wine retailers concerned about the competition large grocery store chains present to their business.

Last week I was reading through the blogs I subscribe to in my feed reader.  First I read Rights and Responsibilities by Seth Godin.  Then I read New proposal offers NY wine stores a transition period by Tyler Colman.  Take a minute and read each of those pieces.  Go ahead- they're both short.

In Godin's piece, he's talking about taking the long view and focusing on sustainable advantages.  Focus on offering joy in a can rather than fighting those who seek to tax and expose the tooth-rotting good-for-nothing nature of your product. In the case of the retail wine industry, the long view is differentiating retail stores in ways that grocery stores cannot.  Things like personal service, leveraging the Internet/social media, and events and education where grocery stores don't focus.

But more than that, it's about recognizing that competition from grocery stores might be more of a threat to certain types of retailers than others.  A few years ago when Massachusetts was considering lifting the 3-store-per-chain limit on grocery stores, some of my favorite wine retailers were actually in favor of the initiative.  They felt the competition from grocery stores would only negatively affect old guard package stores that have been resting on their laurels the past few decades and offering consumers high prices and mediocre service.

So what to do if you're a wine retailer in any situation where more competition is headed your way? Evidently  Daniel Posner realizes the future will bring more open competition and he's focusing his efforts on what could be rather than what once was.  I'm reminded of another piece from Godin: Your "best available strategy" is "providing remarkable service and an honest human connection".  Of course implementing that strategy isn't easy, but what business is ever easy?

Question of the Day: What do you think of wine in grocery stores in New York, Massachusetts or elsewhere?

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