OND: Working Hard To Sell Cheaper Wine

By Devon Magee

  A great cure for OND symptoms: "Borrowing" opened samples from the tasting room

A great cure for OND symptoms: "Borrowing" opened samples from the tasting room

OMG, it’s OND! Translation: October-November-December, a.k.a. “Q4,” a.k.a., “S.O.S.” (Save Our Shareholders)!

Let’s break OND down in terms of wine retail: In corporate speak, the months of October, November and December make up the most important quarter of the year—the tail that wags the dog; the engine that powers the machine. Holiday spending-spurs and increased revenue in Q4 outpaces the other three quarters, inflating annual revenue to a year-over-year increase that keeps shareholders happy, and the CEO in his chair.

Following the summer doldrums, when wine drinkers take a hiatus to drink beer and citrus cocktails on sandy, sunny shores, OND is ripe for wine relapse. Mellow temperatures sandwiched between summer heat and winter freeze offer the biannual opportunity for clients to ship their wines home—along with any additional purchases made in the preceding months.

Corporate gifting lives in OND and you can estimate your perceived value by the quality of the wine your boss gives you (Yellow Tail = pink slip; Hourglass = bonus).

Thanks to Daylight Savings time, we leave work in the dark during the OND months—making us feel as though we’ve worked harder, longer, stretched out our arms farther—and are deserving of a reward. And so, we tend to spend more money during OND—particularly on ourselves.

It’s also that altruistic time of the year when we give, give and give some more. No matter the particular holiday you celebrate, chances are you’ll be giving gifts and the subconscious gift-giving quotient is one for you, and two for me (don’t deny it). Spending money on others is an open invitation to spend money on oneself (yes, you deserve that bottle of Dom, after all, you bought some high-end cava for your aunt).

For the last four years, I’ve sold over $2 Million in wine, per year, direct-to-consumer via an online retail platform. The average price per bottle of wine that I sell is $66.83. I sell a quality of wine that I drink whenever I can, and that I dream of drinking whenever I can’t.

This is my fourth OND in the online retail wine world, and given what we know about Q4, I was shocked to discover, after doing a bit of number-crunching, that on average, my worst sales quarter has in fact consistently been: Q4. WTF!? Really, it’s almost a tie with Q3. Q1 and Q2 have annually and consistently been my best two quarters.

The explanation is surprisingly simple. While I do work harder, and do, sell a lot more wine in Q4, the average price per bottle sold in Q4 is marginally less than in other quarters.

Recommending a mixed case of $20-bottles to individual clients for holiday drinking, or putting together a corporate gift order of $30-bottles of Champers takes time, moves more wine, but ultimately doesn't add up to higher overall revenue.

My workday seems like a constant hustle during OND because of all the extra shipping, which takes time to orchestrate, but does not show up on sales totals. There is an up-side to all of this though: I get to play elf while UPS and FedEx play Santa. I think of my clients’ cellars as perennial Christmas trees that I get to physically restock once a year.

And post-work (when I turn off the commission-hungry wine salesman in me) OND is the best quarter of the year because it brings out the wine drinker in all of us. This time of year, there are more holiday parties than you can shake a candy cane at—and Bacchus knows that there are damn good bottles of $20-wine that will outdrink any bottle of Stella Artois.

All the Swirl is a collections of thoughts and opinions assembled by the staff and industry friends of Charles Communications Associates, a marketing communications firm with its headquarters in San Francisco, California. We invite you to explore more about our company and clients by visiting www.charlescomm.com.