Lidl turns out the lights to get people tasting wine in the dark at Chateaux Noir

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Lidl turns out the lights to get people tasting wine in the dark at Chateaux Noir

The Background

We’ve all been there, stood in the wine aisle, looking at the labels and weighing up whether you should go for the fancy bottle, the one with the biggest discount or simply stick to that trusty Argentinian Malbec. 

As a nation, recent reports suggest we’re now drinking 108 bottles of wine per year each, the most in Europe. 
However, many will admit we’re far from connoisseurs. 

How many of us at some point have been guilty of choosing the ‘second-cheapest’ option at a restaurant? 

In 2018, Lidl began its campaign to win over wine lovers across the nation with the launch of its chat-bot that paired wine to menu choices, removing the guesswork for shoppers. 

The Big Idea

After its success, the retailer has continued to try and assert its dominance over the wine market with the launch of wine-tasting events in the dark called Chateaux Noir.  

Chateaux Noir is designed to challenge shoppers’ perceptions, taking them out of their wine-drinking comfort zone.  

What They Did

Responding to research which showed 35% of British consumers choose a wine based on bottle design, and 27% based on the label, Lidl launched Chateaux Noir in three locations across the country, Glasgow, London and Manchester.  

The blind wine-tasting events secured a flurry of media coverage in titles such as Metro, Mirror, The Grocer, The Sun and a raft regional press, as news outlets reported on the research findings and the opportunity to take part in this unique drinking experience.   

Generating even further media coverage, the brand enlisted the help of reality ‘stars’ Fearne McCann and Sam Faiers for the launch of the London bar, which was featured in the likes of the Mail Online.  

The events, which are held over two days at each location, turned down the lights on drinkers and they challenged the senses and retrained people’s perception of wine.  

Before drinkers were treated to the full in-the-dark experience they first had to pass through the ‘Discombobulation Chamber’, which was designed with clever tricks to mess with the senses.  

With the senses all messed up, the lights go down, the waiters put on the night vision goggles (yes, seriously) and it’s time to taste the wine. 

The Review

Personally, I wasn’t lucky enough to attend one of the events, and apparently sitting in my darkened lounge sipping last Christmas’ leftover Chateuneuf du Pape didn’t quite have the same effect. But, plenty of people did get to enjoy the experience with all six days selling out… fast.  

The idea of challenging the senses isn’t entirely new, but Lidl gave it a unique twist with the wine bar concept. 

The insights highlighted the shopper problem and revealed how clueless many Brits are when it comes to choosing wine. With the aim of educating consumers, breaking down wine-snobbery and ultimately highlighting Lidl’s range of wine, positioning it as the go-to discount retailer, this campaign did get people talking and offered a solution to the problem.  

However, running for less than a week and only in three cities meant that for a lot of people conversation is all it generated. 

By extending the activity to more cities or even for a longer time Lidl could’ve forged these important relationships with even more wine lovers, and potential customers.  

Also, (as I type) only London has been lucky enough to enjoy its dark drinking experience, but I haven’t seen anything on social media either from the brand (apart from a highlight story when I started digging). With so many Insta-worthy moments it seems a waste not to maximise this across social media platforms. 

In Hindsight

Make it longer. 

Knowing the pain, sweat and tears that goes into events, and seeing the sell-out success, it’s a shame not to connect with even more customers and build that relationship with even more people.   

Also, drinkers interested in attending the event had to sign up for tickets for Eventbrite, which is of course one of the easiest ways logistically, however I feel that Lidl missed a trick by not running this via its own website. If all of the media coverage was directing people to the Lidl website this volume of live links would’ve had a significant impact on the website’s SEO. 

So yes, it would’ve taken a bit more effort, but I think it would’ve really paid off. 

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Rick Guttridge

Rick Guttridge

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