Utopian Shift—A Wine Experience is a brick and mortar, retail wine shop that will be located in North Austin, and it is the first retail wine store in the world powered by its own recommendation engine.
Utopian Shift’s target demographic is Millennials (ages 21-38). Millennials are now drinking more wine than any other generation, accounting for 42% of all wine consumed in the US in 2015, compared with Baby Boomers at 30% and Generation X at 20%. Millennials are also more comfortable with technology and more likely to be amenable to an algorithm suggesting wines for them. Austin has a considerably higher percentage of Millennials than the US overall. The median age in Austin is 32.8 years while the overall US median age of 36.8 years.
Utopian Shift is designed to provide a streamlined and enjoyable experience for the consumer. Through years of experience and research, the team has developed a great wine shopping experience.
Ericka Obenar, a partner, will create a mix of digital and experiential marketing to create awareness and drive traffic to the shop. She has years of experience successfully managing large advertising campaigns at some of the largest advertising agencies in the world (Wunderman, Avenue A| Razorfish, R/GA) and for global clients (Microsoft, Nike, Xbox). She will be focused on creating a mix of digital and experiential marketing to create awareness and drive traffic to the shop.
Utopian Shift will deliver a great experience and a fundamental shift in how things are currently done in the space. The business is based on three fundamental principles:
- Serve the majority
- Reduce complexity
- Provide great recommendations
First, Utopian Shift’s entire selection of wines will be priced at $15 and under.
Most people simply don’t buy expensive wines. Wines selling for less than $9 represent 75% of all sales (volume), and 50% of the value of all sales. Only 5% of people ever buy wines over $20, and of those people, 87% also drink wines under $20.
Second, Utopian Shift will carry no more than a curated selection of 300 wines.
Surveys have shown that people are less than enthused about their wine purchasing experience. There are too many options, and not enough expertise to guide them through the selection process. Supermarkets and mass merchandisers (e.g., Wal-Mart) account for 42% of all retail wine sales in the U.S. and staff there have little to no wine knowledge. Larger wine retailers (e.g., Specs, Total Wine, etc.) have a limited capacity to offer individualized recommendations, yet they carry thousands of options that make the selection process overly complex. Smaller retailers generally have good wine knowledge, but stock few, if any, wines under $15. The end result is that people purchase a lot of bad wine and have low levels of satisfaction.
The Utopian Shift team brings decades of experience to the table, and will constantly refine its selection process. Stephen Deyton, a partner who will manage the day to day operations at Utopian Shift, is a sommelier and wine expert. Consumers can browse assured that all wines in the store have been preapproved for quality and taste.
This streamlined approach not only serves its customers better, it also provides Utopian Shift with the ability to better manage inventory, space, and experience.
Fewer SKUs reduce the complexity of its ordering and inventory management process, also allowing it to purchase individual wines at lower price points. Less physical space is required to display and store the limited selection as well. Utopian Shift will operate out of a 2,000-square foot space compared to larger competitors that require upwards of 8,000+ square feet.
Most importantly, consumers are much more likely to walk away satisfied, increasing loyalty with the shop.
Finally, the team has spent more than 5,000 hours over the past 2 years creating, testing, and refining its recommendation engine. This website helps consumers input their preferences for flavor profiles and tracks their purchases and enjoyment of each type of wine. It becomes more intelligent about the user’s preferences, and it recommends wines that the user may want. The website also helps to reduce the amount of labor that is required to provide a curated selection. Less bias and variation between staff helps to ensure that every customer receives the same high quality guidance and advice.
Here’s how the website works…
First, customers answer questions about their palate.
Based on this, Utopian Shift recommends wines customers can order and pick up from their retail location.
Additional information about each wine is available should customers need it.
And the algorithm learns from customer feedback, so recommendations get better over time.