As a niche market company offering high value, recession-proof goods, bargains for consumers and a marketing opportunity for wholesalers, Lot 18 has nailed all of my ideal attributes in a company. But that’s not why I tried out the online wine seller. I signed up last year because I’m the perfect early user for a company like Lot 18 —I’ll try anything once, love wine and am a sucker for top shelf luxuries at dramatic discounts.
This flash sale site for the wine market raised plenty of eyebrows when it reported millions in sales just months after launching, but it should never have been a surprise. When looking at high value goods most investors see a limited target market, and in most cases they are correct. Tiffany’s, Bentley and Prada are simply out of reach for average consumers in most cases, but wine is a little bit different.
Like many collectibles, wine is a highly inefficient market, with a limited number of experts, limited shared knowledge and highly subjective values. Add that opportunity to the high value of each sale and you’ve got a very good pitch for investors. Lot 18 took this obvious opportunity and then absolutely nailed their market, team and tech, and made it look easy in the process.
Because of this Lot 18 can serve high value wine collectors and average consumers equally, with big discounts across a range of products. However, while connoisseurs may spot an occasional deal on a favorite bottle, the real success of the company comes with mass appeal.
For the average consumer a great bottle at a decent price is an affordable treat, a special occasion that doesn’t break the bank. In struggling economic circumstances consumer trends consistently show an uptick in small luxuries like comfort food, and Lot 18 plays perfectly into that behavior.
A nice bottle of wine lends the consumer a sense of high sophistication and taste, yet many excellent wines are priced within reach of most consumers. Lot 18 helps the average consumer sort through them all, curating their sales and including reliable reviews from in-house tasters. This enables troglodytes like me to consistently find some very good wines.
On the supply side Lot 18 offers an opportunity to reach a broad audience with niche products, undervalued vintages and likely some perfectly good overstock. Limited reserves and small vineyards in particular provide some interesting new discoveries, and I’ve found the reviewers to be reliable enough to gamble on what turned out to be a few great bottles.
In fact I was so impressed by the 2007 The Spaniard from Twisted Oak that I visited the winemaker’s web site and signed up for a subscription to receive two reds of their choosing every other month. Better still, when I saw The Spaniard on sale again I bought a case for myself and another to give as holiday gifts. By working with Lot 18, they turned my original purchase of two bottles into a 3-case sale. And I’ll be back for more in the future.
My only word of caution to them is this: you’re sitting on perfection, so don’t f*ck it up. In particular, be careful not to over-partner with other brands to expand unless you can control every aspect of messaging and branding. Lot 18 has been doing this successfully with a few companies now, but their first attempts were rough. Much to their credit, the early stumbles were brief and they now seem to offer complimentary goods in a more seamless way.
So cheers to the team at Lot 18! It’s the best flash sale site in the market, and probably the only one I’ll continue to subscribe to for years to come.