The Innovation Blog

How the Wine Industry Conspires to Make You Look Like an Idiot

Posted by Creative Realities on June 8, 2011

Paddy Miller told the audience at the World Innovation Forum that one of the keys to innovation is correctly framing the problem before you search for the solution. Consider Miller's amusing example:  

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You've invited guests over for a dinner party. You don't know them very well, but you are looking forward to a wonderful Friday evening. An hour before the guests are set to arrive, you realize you do not have any wine. You go to your local liquor store or wine shop. Now you have to choose. Where do you start? Well, first you consider the color - red or white? You'd like to compromise and bring home a rosé but you worry you would be seen as a pleb, which would only confirm what your ex said about you. So you decide on red. Now you have to select the type - cabernet? merlot? pinot noir? You decide on cabernet. Now you have to pick a country. Why not Australia? Ok, but wait, which region in Australia?... Overwhelmed, you grab a bottle based on how the label looks and get home to discover your guests have already arrived and one of them is a wine snob.

Why is that an entire industry, from the winemakers to the retailers to your local wine store proprietor, have all conspired to make you look like an idiot?

One company, BottleRocket, takes an innovative approach to this issue with the layout of their stores. Instead of grouping by region or type, BottleRocket organizes their wine by more useful categories such as the type of meal you are having (pizza?) or the occasion (boss coming over?). According to Miller, there is even a section labeled "third date." BottleRocket developed an innovative layout because they successfully framed the problem in a new way.      

Topics: Chris Dolan, Learning From Failure, creative thinking, creative problem solving