Though Australia’s wine regions are world renowned, the stereotype of a country full of beer drinkers persists – perhaps because wine is so famously difficult to understand and buy. As a result, startups like Adelaide’s Vinomofo and Sydney’s The Wine Gallery have emerged to help consumers better understand what it is they want from wine.
New startup Winephoria proposes to do the same, but rather than matching wines to occasions or food, it helps customers pick wines based on their personality.
Founder Suzi Devine said the idea for the store came from her own experiences going to the bottle shop and feeling overwhelmed by the selection of wines.
“No one was helping me purchase good quality wine with a great customer experience. There was a definite gap in the market for someone to deliver on quality wine from family-owned Australian producers, with a sure fire guarantee that if I didn’t like it they would fix it,” Devine said.
So she set upon building Winephoria, an ecommerce store working with small Australian wine producers to help consumers buy boutique local wines.
“The excitement of finding the unexpected and the desire to explore great wines, and providing these wonderful family owned businesses with the recognition and market exposure they deserve drives the Winephoria ethos. There are so many brands that cannot afford to compete in the big chains, yet are wonderful quality wines that deserve people to taste and love them,” Devine said.
She then came up with an interesting way to get consumers to choose wines: personality matching.
“The wish list was that it had to be fun and engaging for people, but also deliver something with meaning and statistics behind it. While the positioning is fun and engaging, the outcome is serious.”
Devine worked with psychologist Dr Timothy Sharp – or Dr Happy of The Happiness Institute – on the psychological elements of the app. The app works by having users answer a series of lifestyle and preference questions, and then tells them their ‘wine personality.’ Users are then shown a selection of wines fitting the personality.
“For example, Bold Spice is a gentleman that prefers strong reds, whereas the Fruity Vixen is a woman who prefers fruity white wines. It takes the industry jargon and complication out of wine and allows people to understand their preferences by delivering suggestions around what they like,” Devine said.
The app asks users for things like their favourite food, whether or not they would consider themselves a risk taker, how often they drink, whether they prefer red, white, or sparkling wines, and where they would most enjoy drinking a glass of wine.
It’s definitely an interesting, novelty concept, and perhaps fairly accurate, too: I had a go on the app and it matched me with the types of wines I enjoy.
Now, there are two ways the personality matching app could go: most wine connoisseurs recommend wines based on the meals they will be consumed with. On the other hand, many people will always stick to the one or two kinds of wines they know they like, and in this sense, many do have a ‘wine personality.’
However, Winephoria also offers a Wine Concierge service, with staff on call to talk users through wine selections if they do want more of a traditional customer service/discovery experience. There is a 100 percent money back guarantee if customers are unhappy.
Though the startup faces competition from platforms like the aforementioned Vinomofo, now well established, and The Wine Gallery, Devine quit her full time job to focus on Winephoria, funding its development with her savings.
“I see Winephoria doing what it does best and keeping true to our proposition. We are not taking our eyes off our goals to react to competitors in the marketplace. If we continue to deliver outstanding customer service and a quality product, the rest will unfold correctly,” Devine said.
“We believe that our wine concierge service, money back guarantee, and our fun approach to discovering new wines is more than enough to set us apart from what competitors may be offering.”
Devine said the company is focused on delivering on its brand promise to customers, and becoming the partner of choice for wine producers and lovers alike.