by Polly Hammond, 5Forests
Who here lives with a gamer? Well, I’m surrounded by them, from husband to business partner to staff. Lately, in conversations about empathy and delight, the 5forests team have found ourselves referencing video games as oddly analogous to wine business. Both require a sweet blend of technical skill, creative vision, and relationship-building to make a profitable end product. Both exist in a super-saturated market where differentiation has become key to success. And both rely on dedicated teams to develop and promote products that might take years to be ready for market.
While some folks may argue that games are entertainment, and wine is . . . food (?), neither are basic human needs and creators of both must, therefore, create a compelling reason for a potential customer to buy and have buy-in to the brand.
There is a lesson here.
Game design is driven by a concept that few other industries have adopted: the Core Experience. Simply put, the Core Experience is what we want the user to feel as they interact with our product. Not what they see, hear, taste, and touch, but what they feel.
From designers and producers to scriptwriters, artists, animators, editors and programmers, a game development team uses a clearly defined core experience to empower a scalable team to work toward a cohesive game feel. And the end product immerses a player in that experience, whether they jump on for minutes or stay for hours.
So what does this have to do with wine?
Simply put, core experiences create emotional response and tap into basic human desires and needs. In doing so, they empower brands to create genuine delight and lay the foundation for long-term customer relationships. The gaming development team is not so very different from what it takes to make a winery work: leadership and vision, winemaking expertise, branding and marketing, sales and distribution, cellar door staff, somms and retailers on the front lines. And in the case of wine, these teams are often all working in different locations, sometimes globally, to build a successful brand.
This week, ask yourself, “What is your desired Core Experience?”
- What do you want your customers to feel when they interact with your brand?
- How does a customer experience your brand?
- Do each of those customer touchpoints create a cohesive core experience?
- What existing systems or communications can be a starting point for change?
- Even better, what team members can champion this shift with you?
Here’s the deal. We are talking about a full-scale organizational shift from Wine = Transaction to Wine = Experience.
Status quo, whether bad or good, is always easier than change, and I know not every reader will be ready to hear this. But wine marketing MUST evolve to remain relevant. If there is one takeaway from the game-wine analogy, it’s that we cannot relegate our product, with its blend of artistry and skill, with its ability to bring delight and build relationships . . . we cannot relegate wine to mere transactions when we have all the needed parts to build experiences.