As U.S. wine drinkers' tastes have grown more sophisticated, 7-Eleven stores' wine assortment has followed suit. The retailer has come a long way since the days of inexpensive, fruit-flavored wines. Since the mid-1990s, the company has been on a steady path to offer a wider – and better – variety.
While the retailer's stores used to offer only a dozen or so different types of wines, today's top wine-selling 7-Eleven stores carry between 24 and 40 varieties from wineries around the world.
"We want to create a mini-wine shop within some of our stores that have shown strong demand," Beach said. "Regardless of their budget or taste preferences, our guests should be able to find a wine to meet their expectations." The company even sources its own private-label wines like the popular, value-priced Yosemite Road from California.
Because of 7-Eleven's proprietary retail information system and retailer initiative strategy, the company can identify stores that would be most successful selling the ultra-premium line. Each store can track which brands are the most popular with customers in their trade area and provide the assortment that satisfies their guests' tastes.For example, 7-Eleven stores in Northern Virginia's affluent neighborhoods have shown increased sales since introducing the 90-point wines. "Typically, people might head to the grocery store to find a new wine, but our guests have been pleasantly surprised to learn what a broad selection of great quality wines their neighborhood 7-Eleven store has … and at good prices," said Greg Manzer, 7-Eleven's market manager for 110 stores in northern Virginia. "We want to be a wine destination, and these new, ultra-premium wines are giving local wine-lovers another reason to consider 7-Eleven when looking for a good bottle to enjoy." The burgeoning wine market crosses generations, with the most frequent buyers being baby boomers and legal-age millennials, according to a 2012 report by the Wine Market Council, a nonprofit trade association. An estimated 100 million wine-drinkers, almost half of American adults, put the United States in the lead of wine-consuming countries. Boomers long have been the core group, but the Gen Y/millennial-age group also is driving growth in the category, drinking more than their share of wine compared to other age groups, the report says. While breaking out a bottle used to be reserved for special occasions, a glass of wine has become as much a part of weeknight dinners as weekend dates and get-togethers, particularly for Gen Y drinkers in their 20s and 30s.