The (Original) Barefoot Culture

Company culture has a direct bearing on sales, and the survival and growth of a company.

To a large extent, the morale of the employees, as well as the impressions of the customers and vendors, are impacted by company culture. So called “company culture” starts from the top and permeates throughout an organization. The attitudes, principles, philosophies and values of owners and managers shape the decisions, actions, and outlook of the employees. The impression customers, vendors, and outside organizations have of the organization is heavily influenced by the “company culture”.

A company survives and grows due to sales and the loyalty of customers and staff. Sales are based on price, value, dependability, integrity, availability and perception. The basis of perception is image, networking, and more recently, the transparency of the producer.

Transparency is what the brand stands for, its authenticity, its identification with higher values, and the actions it take to demonstrate those values.

When companies subscribe to a higher order of value, beyond the products they sell, they have an advantage in today’s marketplace. Employees excel, and tend to stay with these companies, providing long-term relationships with retail buyers, customers and complementary organizations.

Barefoot culture has historically been based on the principals and values of the founders. Many of these principals are part of the wine country life style. Many are personal values. Many are just pain good business.

The Culture of Generosity

This really goes back to the friendly style of hospitality and entertaining guests, which are a hallmark of the wine country. “Retail Entertainment” is based on the concept that folks not only love wine but what it represents: good times, good company, fun, and romance.

Barefoot does not just participate in a wine tasting event; it adds real entertainment value. People don’t attend a tasting to sniff, swirl, and spit; they go to party. Barefoot is there with the party favors! Balloons, signs, give-aways, combined with lots of color and laughter!

Barefoot does not just donate to worthy causes. It promotes their goals. Knowing that through your business, you can help others by adding value and helping their cause gives “Barefooters” (Barefoot Sales Reps) a level of human satisfaction that is beyond making a sale. They’re making a difference.

The Culture of Permission

Human assets are just that, assets! All people have within them imagination and creativity. The questions are: “Are they given permission to use their imagination? Are they given permission to have fun? Do they look at a situation as a problem, or as an opportunity?”

The answers are based on whether their managers allow them the freedom to experiment, the freedom to be creative, and the freedom to have fun.

Barefoot is fun! The whole approach is fun, from the image of the barefoot to the colorful labels and cartons, from the human image that everyone in the world can identify with to the slogans, puns and parodies. And why shouldn’t wine be fun?

But it’s not enough to have a fun package. The representatives of the wine have to be friendly and fun, too. Barefoot gave its people permission to create entertaining promotions, choose and support worthy causes in imaginative ways.

Barefooters are encouraged to be playful. Having fun with the ‘foot’ has always been a hallmark of Barefoot culture.

Permission and autonomy give Barefooters a unique level of ownership seldom seen in most companies. It keeps Barefoot fresh and its people involved. They look forward to coming to work because it’s so exciting. Again, it’s fun and they know they are making a difference.

The Culture of Customer Service

At the time Barefoot Wine was founded, the business model was considered radical. The founders viewed it as more of a “service” rather than merely a product. At Barefoot’s price point, which was termed the “velocity price point”, it was clear that it could not survive without becoming “America’s Personal House Wine”. From the beginning, it was understood that it had to sell massive quantities to stay in business.

Personal house wine was defined as the wine one serves in one’s own house as a staple: “Tuesday night wine, picnic wine, beach wine”. It was the wine to always keep on hand. It was the brand you discovered that consistently delivered the quality and value you had come to expect from your own “personal house wine”.

The company knew that customers (“foot fans”) would be loyal to the brand as long as the price remained stable (at the velocity price point), the taste profile was consistent (delicious), and it was available and easy to buy (in stock).

The Barefoot culture has been based on the most comprehensive definition of customer service. Imagine a company that, through worthy cause promotions, encouraged customers to go into specific retail establishments to buy their brand. Imagine a company that views its displays as retail entertainment, adding color, fun, and theme sets for the enjoyment of its customers! This is the ultimate in customer service to your retailer, your end-user, and to your community.

The Culture of Acknowledgement

People are motivated by goal achievement, but also by public recognition. It not only validates their creativity, but it send a message to the rest of the troops that this type of behavior is not only appreciated, but also identified and exemplified.

Appreciation goes a long way toward building team spirit and encouraging everyone on the team to be creative in a productive and fun way. They know that top management and their teammates will recognize their achievement and are not afraid to speak up about it. They are encouraged to create imaginative promotions and fun events.

Acknowledgement is validation. Employees want to know that they are contributing, and that their efforts are being appreciated. Third party validation from managers, peers, customers, associates and non-profits builds confidence to go out and do more of the same, or better!

The Culture of Common Causes

When Barefoot was trying to get traction in the marketplace, it was an uphill battle. Just to keep the bottles on the shelves was a daily struggle. The Barefooters spent much of their time just replacing vacancies and point of sale materials that had been removed by others. Being a small company, Barefoot did not yet have the respect of the distributors or the retailers, and, therefore, did not warrant the attention required to keep the product in stock. Every Barefooter faced the same challenge all over the country.

“How could you put a foot on a wine label?” is what the wine snob detractors were asking. They thought it was just a passing fad, and a wine not to be taken seriously. The Barefooters were out to show them differently, and they did! Thanks to a great winemaker, Barefoot wines kept winning more medals than any others in the same price category. There’s nothing like team victory to bind the team together!

All the sales staff knew that Barefoot was indeed destined to become big, very big, so they worked together, shared war stories and kept each other energized. They felt like Davids, up against the Goliaths of the wine industry.

They also knew that their fellow Barefooters were actively engaging the ultimate market, the general public. They knew that Barefoot had a “secret weapon”: worthy cause marketing. They were making the world a better place through wine, and they were proud of it.

These forces forged a real team spirit and life-long friendships between the Barefooters. They all knew that it takes a certain type of person to be a Barefooter. They were happy to be one of the team, and they sincerely enjoyed each other’s company and support.

The Barefoot culture was based on the human desire to have a positive effect on the industry, the community, and the environment, and to be recognized and appreciated for it. It was a philosophy of win-win-win.