Bright Cellars Has a Bright Idea

A Word from My New Friends from: Bright Cellars  

A New Way to Drink Wine

Bright Cellars has discovered a new way to sell wine

Bright Cellars has discovered a new way to sell wine

The wine industry can be an intimidating place, especially for millennials. It’s been perceived as pretentious and uppity for so long that it has driven away consumers, even intimidating prospective winos out of the wine aisle altogether. But thanks to two MIT grads with a love for wine and a desire to make the industry more accessible and entertaining, a huge shift has been inspired. It began with two roommates: a vehement business student and a merlot-sipping tech genius. Enter: Bright Cellars.

Monthly Subscriptions Ain’t Just For Magazines


Bright Cellars is a monthly subscription wine experience that matches member with personalized monthly selections. Members take a short quiz to share their taste preferences for food and beverages, which Bright Cellars then uses to design each member’s very own personalized taste profile. Based on this profile, the Bright Cellars algorithm identifies specific wines that are likely to match the member’s tastes. Bright Cellars’ slogan is literally “discover wine you love.” Not only do members get to rate and review four wines a month, but often this results in finding their new favorite wine, usually one they would otherwise never try.

Understanding the
Millennial Demographic

Bright Cellars

Bright Cellars has discovered a new way to sell wine. Wine + Custom Choices + Mail = Happy Millenials.

The subscription component of Bright Cellars is also a major score with the millennial demographic. Millennials as a group are likely to invest in products that feel personalized and reflect their personal style and brand. Bright Cellars promotes this customization through matching each member to each wine specifically. It’s as much of a wine discovery project as it is a wine education experience, with flavor and aroma profiles, and a blog that explores and explains the wide world of wine.

What Wine Can Learn from the Craft Beer Movement

Bright Cellars has discovered a new way to sell wine. Wine + Mail = Happy Customers.

Bright Cellars has discovered a new way to sell wine. Wine + Mail = Happy Customers.

“Other wine subscriptions have focused heavily on discounting and no one has solved the heart of the problem yet: There is a ton of high-quality wine out there that our members will love that they would never otherwise try, learn about, or have access to. Bright Cellars is the fun, interactive way to experience new wine,” says Richard Yau, Bright Cellars CEO. As Yau puts it,

“Millennials are ready for this. Nearly all of our new members learned about us through social media or bloggers. I think we can do for wine what craft beer has done for the beer industry.  We can help wine drinkers discover and learn about the world of wine. Gallo and Constellation Brands are looking at how to engage millennials, and I think we have that solution.”

The Power of Passion

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Passion is key to professional success. Without passion, you have nothing worth waking up for and heading into the office to build. A successful business begins with finding something you can throw yourself and your heart into.

When you work passionately with affecting change as your goal, the bottom line will follow.  A passion-based business always has at its core meeting your target market’s need.

Ask The Questions

In order to meet a need, you must first identify it. This process may take time because you cannot meet a need in a void. You need to get into the minds of your target market to understand fully what they need and how they’ll use it.

You cannot sit in an ivory tower, brainstorm what “they” want, and put it out there. The trick is for you to figure out how to discover what “they” need and make that happen. Do this by asking questions, listening to the answers, and then building your business around that gap. Fill the void.

Create your products or round out your concept based on what is missing in the marketplace. Ask yourself:

  • Are you building something to appease an individual, or is it a solitary offering?
  • Is it intended for a patient and a doctor or is it a patient and caregivers (family/friends)?
  • Is your product one that already exists, yet you feel you have a “better mousetrap” to offer?
  • Will your product/service speak to multiple generations? If so, do you need revisions within your product/concept in order to make it that much better of a fit?

Listen to the Answers

Of course beyond asking the questions is listening to the answers. Listen without bias, without editing, and with an open heart. When you listen this way, you’ll be able to push your passion through to fruition in a way that will be well received by those you intend to serve most.

When you’ve begun from a passionate position, asked the right questions, listened to the answers, and responded with a product or service that fills a void, you’re well on the way to securing buy-in from customers and investors alike.

Confirm Buy-in

Always confirm buy-in from your target market by reaching out to early adopters and brand advocates. What do these customers need to know about your business in order to feel comfortable parting with their money? Ask them what they need to ensure their commitment? Today’s savvy consumers are bombarded with purchase options and need assurance your product or service is perfect for them. Having social proof in the form of devoted customers gives that buying confidence.

Whether it’s a new product line in fashion or food, rebranding your existing business, conceptualizing new ways to connect patients to healthcare providers, or something as lofty as launching a bank, having a successful product or service is all about bringing your passion to fruition. You’ll do that through asking and listening and acting in a way that fills a marketplace void and meets your target market’s needs.

So, here’s to passion-based projects and affecting change! Here’s to business done in a way that shifts the power from the bottom line to the bottom of your consumer’s hearts.

Work With Us

Bringing in an objective and unbiased researcher will help you as you get started on your new, or existing, passion-based business. Let us help you with market research, ensuring you’ll ask the right questions, really listen to the answers, and be able to appropriately interpret and implement the results.


Techniques – Honor Diversity (#3 of 3)

Suggestion Three – honor the diversity

Groups are as different as the folks who sit around those oblong tables.  Don’t jump to conclusions just because you’re sitting around the table with a group of teachers (typically more friendly than others), anesthesiologists (typically more guarded than most), or banking customers (typically more hostile than others) because even though there are those generalities or even stereotypes, those can be quickly blown when you realize each and every one of those anesthesiologists, teachers or customers are just people:  people who live their lives above and beyond their interaction with your clients’ products or services;  people who deal with family happiness’s and challenges;  people who come from different races, religions, creeds, genders, cohorts, etc.  Sure, package them into subsets, draw enough assumptions to build your guide and frame the discussion, but once you sit down with 8-10 strangers sitting around you, take off the gloves, heck, if you have to, take off your shoes too, and look at them as individuals who need to be treated as such.  And, never forget, the guide is just a guide.  A moderators’ guide is a fantastic jumping off point but it’s the nooks and crannies that you explore, while you’re in the group, learning about your respondents as people that will bring you those gems that every client will be pleased to have gotten.


Last, but hardly least – reap the rewards and the surprising extras!

So, all the very best to you as you moderate a group, or hire a moderator to tend to your project.  But as you’re doing so, take a moment to remember that people are just people and they all come to your table with aback story.  The job of the moderator is to decipher where these folks are coming from as effectively and efficiently as possible.  Thus informed, you can then get down to brass tacks.   Dig into the guide and make sure you come out of there having answered the clients’ objectives and, in a perfect world, even gleaned insights well beyond the barriers of the guide.  Of course, for me, my biggest reward isn’t hearing from the client how thrilled they are with the groups (now, dear clients, don’t get me wrong…I love making you happy but my responsibility to you is to get unguarded information from your customers/clients/employees and that’s what I’m bound to do) but from the respondents themselves.  When you have respondents walking out of your groups thanking your for having invited them, there simply isn’t much that is more rewarding.  You know when respondents say ‘thank you,’ they trusted you enough to open themselves up and share their honest opinions.  You know you mined those gems which will serve your client well, and that, dear reader, is the key, no, it’s the technique of all techniques, that puts you heads above the rest.  Know your project, understand the objectives, learn the clients’ product or industry but, above all, moderate a group which will leave the respondents leaving happy having been there.

Focus Group Techniques – #1 of 3

Suggestion One – Start a conversation by identifying the nature of your groups

I can almost hear you ask … A conversation?  How do you do that?  Well, assess your group.   Do you have a friendly group?  They could get a bit chatty so tread carefully on the whole bonding thing.  Perhaps they are a guarded or ‘anxious’ group?  Take a couple extra minutes before you jump in, no need to rush.  Trust me… using a few extra precious moments up front, before you set in to the business at hand, will serve you well in the end.  Then there’s the hostile group – hmmm, why do you think they are hostile?  Are they sad, scared, and/or angry?  Listen for clues to figure out the genesis of their hostility – is it something directly related to the topic at hand, your client, the industry that you’re discussing?  Or is it bigger than that?  Maybe things have changed in their geographic area/within their company and it’s affecting the respondents around your table.  Validate their anger, sadness or fear, give them a moment (just a moment!!) here and there to air their frustrations and continue to stay the course.  This is the type of group you can’t manage with precision (or an iron fist) because flexibility (and kid gloves) is the only way to get them to open up.  In fact, if you try to shut themdown, you’ll practically hear the clicking of the mortar shovels building up those walls.

Don’t be fooled

So, you have groups which are friendly, anxious, hostile, and then, on occasion just an easy going group.  Oh, that’s great you say, right?  No, there are potholes here too.  An easy going group can be complacent and complacency leads to the following; leaning back in the chairs, doodling (and not necessarily the productive kind), day dreaming, etc.

More ‘techniques’ to follow throughout December…my little way of spreading the holiday ‘giving’ throughout the entire month.  Happy, happy, merry, merry and a HoHoHo!

Don’t Hesitate … Triangulate

So, you ask someone … “what do you like, ice cream or cookies?” and you get your answer, right?  But wait, not so fast!  Consider this:  they may say “ice cream” but that might be because it’s a beautiful sunny day and the ice cream truck has just passed.   Yet, quite honestly, they much prefer a chocolate sandwich cookie (dipped in milk, of course) after their evening meal.  That being the case, you can’t always take people at their word, can you?  Not that
they intentionally try to mislead but often immediate circumstances have more to do with their answer than the question itself.
Here’s proof I think that this is the case:  In a worldwide study posing
the question on brand respect, it was stated that Wal*Mart was top of the
heap–the most respected worldwide brand, this, according to a report by Brand Finance, a UK-based brand valuation consultant.   Of course I’m not faulting the research whatsoever since Wal*Mart is certainly one of the top used brands, but that is not the point.  The question was, “which is the most RESPECTED brand?” Further, I pose this question … does brand recognition, or use, translate into brand respect?  Frankly, I can’t answer that without asking more questions, can you?  My gut is telling me that it does not but I’d hate to stake my reputation, and a potentially huge campaign (with significant monetary output), on my gut.  We need to dig deeper. 

In this instance, the need is to go beyond the numbers. Sure, it’s great to
get a quick gut-check on brands offering one view or response to the question,
but now let’s go beyond the numbers.  Why did the respondents choose what
they did?  What, specifically, do they respect in a brand?  Is there anything about the brand they feel could be changed in order to increase its level of respect, not just its use?  The broad-brush approach is certainly a valid approach but it’s just that — broad, so let’s take it to the next level
and listen to the consumers. 

Knowing the what and whys of a situation takes you from the 30,000 foot view
of the intimate and provides you insight far deeper and much more robust than
simple numbers on a page could ever do.  Next time you’re met with a number
don’t hesitate to ask ‘why’ and if there is no answer don’t hesitate to
triangulate.  Triangu-what?   Here, let me explain …
‘Triangulation is a powerful technique that facilitates validation of data
through cross verification from more than two sources. In particular, it
refers to the application and combination of several research methodologies
in the study of the same phenomenon’. [Wikipedia]  Ahh!  You see, there are many ways to achieve this by bringing in a researcher who is well-versed in more than any one methodology, open to approaches which often need a little
wiggle room, and consequently will afford you the opportunity to not only obtain the numbers but uncover the whys.

Do you want monkeys?

 Imagine yourself as a contestant in a game show where you can actually choose your prize, then design a plan to capture it.  You are given a limited bankroll to finance the venture and a group of people to whom you must answer.  With each decision you make you must convince them that you are spending your bankroll carefully and wisely. 

Life in the business world is kind of like that, isn’t it?  You have your eye on the goal and you must use every available means to achieve it.  Trouble is, an unlimited budget is a luxury in today’s business climate, so the reasonable goal is to wring every last penny of value out of each precious dollar spent.  Now that sounds like the right thing to do, but sadly, the first impulse is to tighten the purse strings at every portion of the project without taking the long-range view.  The end result is this … you get what you pay for.  Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Henry Ford, W. Clement Stone and others of their ilk have created their own version of James Goldsmith’s quote, “if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.”   Although it’s an amusing statement, it’s sobering in a business setting.  Yet, time after time, companies will choose to pay peanuts (or cut corners) and still expect high rewards.    

Here’s an example: 

‘THE’ Company has decided to launch a new product.  However, they are uncertain whether their product will resonate with their customers and prospects.  They interview two research and marketing consultants (Company A and Company B) and hire the one which offers focus groups for less (B), knowing they will need several to cover every possible scenario.  Bear in mind, however, that Company A had guaranteed ‘THE’ Company that the results could be generated from four focus groups.  ‘B’ Company did not.  For the sake of a visual, let’s say that Company A charges $1000 per group to moderate (4 guaranteed groups = $4000).  Company B charges $700.   Oh, what a savings, right?  Only $2,800 with Company B.

Once hired, Company B finds that they need five or six groups to glean the information ‘THE’ Company is looking for = $3500-$4200.  On the surface, it appears that $3500 for 5 or even $4200 for 6 groups can be reported to your overseeing group as more value, as Company B was at $4000 for JUST four groups. 

Let’s dive deeper and see if it is.  Every focus group requires secondary expenses … room and equipment rental, travel expenses for the moderator, time spent by ‘THE’ Company to sit in on groups, group costs – recruiting, incentives, meals, etc., adding up to possibly another $2500+ per group.  Company A – 4 groups $4000 + $10,000 = $14,000.  Company B – 6 groups $4200 + $15,000 = $19,200.  Suddenly the perceived value (not to mention the typically tight timeline) vaporizes into thin air.   It is far better to review the track record of the competing companies, get referrals, and analyze where the true value lies.  A talented moderator gets results and it’s not the letters behind the name, or even all the training courses completed, that generates the value it’s the moderator themselves.  This comes through a mix of experience and personality.  Know who you’re getting and what they bring to the table.  Don’t be afraid to follow up on references, it could, afterall, save you many peanuts in the end.

Bottom line question … do you want monkeys or practical results?

Progress – It’s a process.

Progress and innovation – ordinary expressions loaded with extraordinary potential.  The trick is to bring them back into our everyday business vernacular.

Since the beginning of 2009 many of us have put innovation (hence, progress) on the back burner for the sake of “the bottom line.”  When the pinch came, the first things to go from corporate budgets were advertising, marketing, and research, placing innovation on the endangered list.  Sadly, stagnant companies lose clients and the downward cycle spirals.  So, how do you stop it and restart the wheels of innovation while keeping an eye on the bottom line?

Begin with that project that is small enough to be cost-effective but with enough impact to make a difference.  Remember that project that you were starting right at the end of 2008… the one you pushed to the back burner come 2009?  Pull that out, along with others that have been shelved during the year.  Do a quick gut check, involve your sales force and even ask your customers what they think could make the biggest difference.  Ask questions.  An internal survey to your sales force is a great beginning.  Next consider on-line focus groups and in-facility/home tests. 

Loop in your existing customers with a customer satisfaction survey.  How have they weathered the recession?  How can you help them to meet their bottom line?  Now is a good time to remind your customers that you’re there.  Be the hand up, ready to help.  This investment in empathy will work in your favor when this is all behind us.  Nurtured customers will not forget.  Be the company that cares enough to connect and ask the questions before someone else beats you to it.  And, remember, there are many new ways to do research.  Work with someone who knows these new methodologies and use them to your economical advantage.  Keep in mind that progress takes time but progress is the path that leads to innovation.

Choose to be THAT company which breathes life into innovation and research.  Asking questions indicates that you are competent and will have the ideas to convert answers into solutions.  Remember, when the load feels heavy, it’s really not when broken down into manageable pieces.  Progress is a process … but it needs innovation or it will remain dormant.  None of us can afford that.

Social Media – Content Architecture (aka THE PLAN)

As I begin this discussion let me set the stage with this: Social media IS media. Just like the old traditional forms (TV, news and radio…remember those?) these (twitter, facebook, LinkedIn, blogs, etc.) are YOUR avenues to getting YOUR message out. Even though the medium is now electronic in nature the base and philosophy for dispersement is the same. For example while the random approach works, and is better than nothing (meaning you post because something ‘moved’ you, or caught your eye), setting up a content architecture for your social media will afford you the opportunity to have a plan in place and properly manage (and massage) your social media network and distribution. Map out which social outlets you utilize (and yes, the more…the merrier!), take a look at where you draw content (don’t forget all your existing sources such as your website, white papers, press releases, etc. – these are GREAT places to start) and start the process of building a plan. Then, of course…stick to your plan!

Don’t forget at the end of your posts, blogs, tweets, etc. link the reader back to a place you’d like them to land such as your website, or link bringing them to a special offer, polls, etc.

The key is to leverage the appropriate messages and syndicate those messages in a way which creates a loyal (current) following but also brings you new followers, through pass ons, retweets (RT) or other forms of electronic sharing.

Be sweet and tweet! If for nothing less than a gateway to a followup conversation – over and above the 140 character limit.
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Creative Cross-Overs in Social Media Networking

We all know ‘it’s’ here and either we’re jumping on board or we’re pushing back but take heed…if you didn’t know, know now that ‘IT’ is here. The ‘it’ to which I refer is social networking and everyone is doing it. It’s not just your kids’ social outlet anymore it’s everyone’s! From the local cupcake company who sends out tweets with their flavors of the day, and Ellen, on Facebook, who let’s you know what’s coming up on her show, to the CEO at Southwest who tweets as he criss-crosses the county – they have joined in! Have you? Have your clients?

What are some creative ways either you, or your clients, utilize social networking to get the word out on products, services or events? Or, what are some of the most creative cross-overs you’ve seen in social media networking? Or, if you want to take it another way…what things have you seen companies try on social media networking that you think just don’t work, as I believe, though ideas abound on this (new) platform, this too has its limitations…what do you think they are? 

Feel free to reach out to me, leave me a reply following this post, e-mail me @ , tweet me (, or get ‘Linkedin’  (see below) with some of your input, I’d love to hear!  But, in the meantime, if you haven’t joined in…DO – this is not a mere evolution – this is a REVOLUTION!  The times they are a changing  HAVE changed!