Research team helps Winebox unpack its target markets

Winebox Event Space

Research team helps Winebox unpack its target markets

Wine clubs and wine dealers have long been the way for oenophiles and casual drinkers alike to get their hands on unique vintages.

Problem is, people choosing to buy their vino this way either have to purchase an entire case of the same wine or have no freedom to choose what they receive in their order.

Enter Winebox, an online bottle shop that is a joint venture between Equal Parts Hospitality restaurant group in Hamilton, Nicholas Pearce Wines distributor in Toronto, and investment firm Trio Capital.

The venture started after the province granted restaurants permission to sell alcohol by the bottle to go during the pandemic. It gives oenophiles access to boutique, small-batch and hard-to-find wines that aren’t available in the neighbourhood liquor store. Consumers can buy as much or as little of a vintage as they want and when they want, or set up subscriptions for regular delivery.

It sounds like an easy sell, but those behind it are keen to see it succeed by getting wine into the glasses of their target markets. To understand their customer base and properly market Winebox, they enlisted the help of Niagara College’s Business and Commercialization Solutions team.

“You get a person like me, a middle-aged man, whose buying preferences are different than a millennial female,” said Mike Malone, a Trio Capital director. “It’s how to market to those people. We needed help understanding who our target market is to begin with and what resonates with that market.”

The Niagara College research team set to work last summer to provide competitive analysis, market research, and all the “raw data points” a startup could need to go from fledgling to formidable.

The hope is to use the information for market segmentation, thinking about consumer traits including gender, household income, age, geography and vocation when positioning Winebox as a go-to online wine retailer.

Malone was also seeking insight into the future of restaurant alcohol retail rules and how any changes to current regulations could affect Winebox going forward.

In the end, he was provided with all Winebox needed to do market testing, including trying out different channels and narratives to build appeal and sales in time for more intense marketing efforts planned for this fall. The information is also being used to optimize the Winebox business plan.

The College also provided feedback on Winebox’s website, which were implemented to refine the user experience.

“We are referencing the Niagara College work quite a bit to do that,” Malone said.

The partnership provided more value than Malone anticipated.

“At the end of the day, I was impressed with what they did,” he said. “They provided useful information and gave us useful ideas. They over-delivered and provided quite a bit of value. I was quite pleased.”

Learn more about Winebox on the company website.

Learn more about the successes of the Business and Commercialization Solutions team.