Wine Enthusiast Gets Down to Business

The Wine Enthusiast has uncorked a new business-to-business catalog. The Hawthorne, NY-based marketer of wines and related accessories mailed The Professional Restaurant Edition in April to 200,000-250,000 customers and prospects.

The new book sells wine storage products and accessories for restaurants, bars, and other businesses that sell or serve wine, says vice president of marketing and commerce Judith Roberts.“We’re prospecting and testing aggressively,” she says, though she won’t disclose specifics. “We dug into our database to find appropriate customers for the new book, including restaurants, casinos, and bed and breakfasts.”

The 24-page book will mail in four drops, with alternating repaginations and covers. “After the drops, we’ll be able to see how response is to the new catalog and how it performs seasonally,” Roberts says.

According to Wine Enthusiast chairman Adam Strum, the Professional Restaurant Edition sells some products that aren’t necessarily appropriate for the home, such as wine preservation centers.

“What we’re doing is remarketing product that is mostly sold to our core audience and selling it to a different audience,” Strum explains. “And we don’t sell at wholesale prices, because the restaurant buyers are end users, rather than resellers.” Instead, the merchandise is priced an average of 15% lower than in the retail catalog. The company has had a wholesale catalog, Wholesale Direct, which sells storage supplies and accessories to small wine stores and resellers, since 1990.

Second-time lucky?

The Professional Restaurant Edition is actually the second book of its kind for The Wine Enthusiast. The company had tested a Fine Dining Direct catalog for restaurants and hotels in 1990. “We mailed it only two or three times, and then wrapped it back into our main book,” Strum says.

As for why the Fine Dining book didn’t take off, Strum says, “Sometimes great ideas are ahead of their time.” Back then, he says, the restaurant industry wasn’t mature enough, and consumers weren’t as familiar with wine. “But during the past 10 years, wine consumption has grown, and restaurants notice the bottom-line benefits of having proper storage and display for their wine collection. Restaurants are more sophisticated now.”

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