Do wine and beer make for a better shopping experience?
Retailers, from Barnes & Noble to Whole Foods, are experimenting with the sale of beer and wine on-premises to attract shoppers to their stores. The concept of on-site bars is not new, but provides hope that chains can attract shoppers with marketing tactics that don’t focus almost entirely on price.
A recent Wall Street Journal report pointed to supermarkets that are opening bars inside stores and including cup holders in carts so that shoppers can meander the aisles with their beverage of choice. A case in point is Whole Foods, which allows shoppers to carry and drink beer and wine in about 350 of its locations.
“When customers find out that they can sip and shop, a lot of times it’s a light bulb moment,” Chris Kopperud, a regional specialty coordinator in the Midwest for Whole Foods, told the Journal.
Gelson’s, an upscale grocery chain in California, found that offering beer and wine in its stores attracted both male and female shoppers across all adult age groups. The chain plans to add more stores with bars.
The supermarket as a social hub has been part of the business for many years, going back to days when stores were often a place for neighbors in less densely populated places to meet and catch up.
In some locations, stores have developed reputations as meeting places for singles. The so-called Social Safeway in the Georgetown area of Washington, D.C. has such a reputation, developed over a decade. As a 2015 article on The Hoya website pointed out, “Before Tinder or OKCupid, if you were looking to meet new people, it was time to make an excuse to go grocery shopping. One alumna who preferred to remain anonymous claimed that she intentionally bought only three or four items during each trip, for the sole reason that she would have to frequently return to the grocery store, thus increasing her exposure to the dating pool.”
- Supermarkets Invite Shoppers to Drink While They Shop – The Wall Street Journal (sub. required)
- Safeway Georgetown
- The Changing Social Dynamics of Safeway – The Hoya
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Are bars serving beer and wine in supermarkets a good answer for stores seeking to attract shoppers less focused on price? How do you feel about allowing shoppers to sip while they shop?