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Pizza Wine
Huge Opportunity Begging to Be Mined

Author: John Correll       Publisher: Correll Consulting, LLC       www.correllconcepts.com     Published: December 2005

There's something missing in the wide world of pizza —


Yes, wine!

For decades we've been washing down our 'za with frosty cola and beer. And so be it. Both beverages go well with pizza. But here's a little secret — a slice of pizza married with a glass of wine can go great together. Bite o' pizza, sip o' wine, bite o' pizza, sip o' wine … it can be pizza-eating heaven.

And this is based on personal experience. Wine has been my pizza-eating beverage of choice for over 10 years. And for my wife, as well (who happens to be a serious pizza aficionado!).

In short, there's a big wine-selling opportunity waiting to be tapped in the world of pizza. Here, I believe, is how that opportunity could be actualized — in three “easy” steps.

STEP 1: Create an Offering of Pizza-perfect Wine/s.
(This step done by wine-makers.)

A — DESIGN THE PERFECT PIZZA BEVERAGE: Start at ground zero. Design a wine — or perhaps several wines — made specifically to enhance, or at least complement, the flavor of pizza. Be daring and unconventional. If need be, do some mixing and blending. We're not interested in enology convention and tradition here. Our objective is to create the perfect wine for pizza.

“Which pizza?” you ask. Start with the universal favorite — Pepperoni Pizza. Then, if necessary, branch out from there.

B — DO TASTE-TESTING WITH PIZZA-EATERS: Use the palate of dedicated pizza-eaters (those who eat pizza three or more times a month) as the guide during the wine design phase. In other words, to arrive at the perfect pizza wine — do wine-with-pizza taste testing using focus groups of dedicated pizza-lovers. And don't allow preconceived notions of “which wine is best suited for which food” to adulterate the research. Present the taste-testers a full array of options to select from. It might be that pizza-eaters might find, say, a sweeter wine to be the perfect pizza flavor enhancer — who knows?

C — TARGET THE BRAND: Brand this wine — or line of wines — with laser beam focus on pizza-eaters. Pizza is the niche here, nothing else. All the other foods of the world are taken care of by all the other wines of the world. This wine is about pizza … period. (Although, of course, some pizza-eaters might discover down the road that their favorite pizza wine also happens to go very well with certain of their favorite pasta dishes, too!)

D — COMMUNICATE A “THIS IS FOR PIZZA” MESSAGE: In creating the brand for this wine (or line of wines), formulate a name, logo, graphics, product description, and bottle design that shouts “Pizza-lover, this is it — the perfect beverage for your perfect pizza!” Also, of course, design the brand to fit the demographics and psychographics of these consumers. Most likely we're talking mainstream America, not upper crust.

E — PRICE IT FOR VOLUME SELLING: Design and price this product so it can sell as a reasonably-priced by-the-glass house wine. I believe there's an opportunity to switch pizza-eaters from their current beverage to a comparably-priced glass or carafe of wine. But the product will fail if the goal is to “upsell” pizza consumers to an expensive bottle or, worse yet, an overpriced glass. (More in Step 3.)

STEP 2: Market It Broadly.
(This step done by wine-makers and distributors in combination with pizzerias and pizza companies.)

A — NATIONALLY ADVERTISE THE CONCEPT: Install a broad-based advertising campaign that introduces the pizza-eating public to the concept of “Pizza Wine — an exciting new drink for pizza.” I think billboards would work well for this. But I'm no expert on ad channels. Once the advertising folks get involved, they'll figure out the most effective media.

B — EXPLOIT PUBLICITY: This product is a perfect candidate for a publicity campaign. A creative PR/publicity firm should be able to get it featured on virtually every food channel, food program, and food column in America. Think about it. A new beverage designed expressly for enhancing the pizza-eating experience … and designed from the input of hundreds of dedicated pizza-lovers (i.e., the focus group testers). What food writer or program producer wouldn't pick up on it? What pizza-eater wouldn't try it? If for no other reason than out of sheer curiosity.

C — USE INDUSTRY TRADE SHOWS & MAGAZINES: Introduce pizzeria owners to the product by exhibiting at the annual pizza trade shows such as Pizza Expo and the New York Pizza Show. Also consider taking out ads in the national trade mags such as Pizza Marketing Quarterly (PMQ) and Pizza Today.

D — PROMOTE IT ON-SITE: For maximum impact, wine-makers and distributors should provide a “Pizza Wine Sales Kit” for pizzerias and restaurants. It might include a window or lobby banner, wall signs, table tents, and menu clip-ons. Plus it would contain server training materials (like an interactive CD) for training servers in what makes the product unique, how to serve it, and how to answer customer questions.

STEP 3: Serve It Right.
(This step done by pizzerias.)

A — OBTAIN THE RIGHT “PIZZA WINE GLASS”: What's that? It's a glass that says “wine” without the effeteness of traditional wine glasses. It's a vessel that pizza-eaters would feel comfortable drinking from. As I envision it … it has a no-nonsense cylindrical chamber rather than an awkward bulbous oval chamber. It has a short, stocky stem rather than a long, skinny stem. It's made of thick glass rather than thin. It's heavy rather than light. And it won't easily break in the dishroom. Finally, it's sized to hold 5.5 to 6.0 ounces of wine when filled to 1/2-inch of the top. So that a five-to-six ounce portion looks like a “glass full o' wine” and not like one of those traditional half-filled, skimpy-looking glasses of vino served in places pretending that their clientele consists of wine connoisseurs. Forget the baloney about how a wine glass needs to be half-filled so that customers can sniff the bouquet. Pouring a half-full glass is fine when a person has ordered a bottle. But for wine ordered by-the-glass, it should be filled. Most wine drinkers view a glass served half-empty as nothing more than a ruse for chintzing on their portion … and, thereby, serving them less than what they're paying for.

Here's a sketch of one idea for a Pizza Wine Glass.

Sample Pizza Wine Glass
(Approximate dimensions in inches)

B — FILL THE GLASS TO 1/2-INCH OF THE TOP: Why 1/2-inch of the top? Because … when filled closer than 1/2-inch of the top the server invariably spills it while carrying it to the table, making for a wet, messy table top. When filled lower than 1/2-inch of the top, it appears like the customer is being chintzed — a.k.a. getting screwed on their beverage. This is not the impression that you want customers to have because it causes them to not order the product again or, in some cases, to not return to the restaurant again. So, for Pizza Wine to make it, the glass needs to be filled to 1/2-inch of the top in a glass sized to hold 5.5 to 6.0 ounces of wine when filled to that point.

C — PRICE A GLASS OF HOUSE PIZZA WINE AT $3.99 OR LESS: Price a 2-glass carafe at $7.49 or less. Price a 4-glass carafe at $13.99 or less. Why $3.99 per glass? Because once the price goes over $4 many typical pizza-eaters won't buy it. Four bucks for a few ounces of house wine is simply a “shaft deal” in the mind of much of mainstream America. Pizza-eaters are accustomed to paying $3-$4 for a bottle or large mug of beer. So many of them won't have a problem with paying a similar amount for what appears to be a generously-filled glass of wine. But very few of them will choose a beverage option that results in what appears to them to be “paying more and getting less.”

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This work is authored by John Correll.
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John Correll - 2005"A bad day of fishing is better than a good day at most jobs. But it isn't better than an average day at creative self-employment."

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