Samui Wining & Dining
Social Wine

Why wine pairs well with social media.


26-01Today, it is probably the case that there is little room left for continued innovation in the world of wine. After all, (dare I say it?) it’s just a drink made from fermented grape juice! And the last two decades have seen huge developments in its manufacturing process and marketing strategies. Surely there is only so much tinkering left to do with the product, particularly when you consider our highly-evolved wine consciousness, and love of provenance and authenticity. I think I speak for most of us, when I say that we don’t want wine that’s too manipulated. Packaging is the easiest thing to impact, but even there you are still limited, due to constraints of presentation at the point of sale.

      Having said that, the one relatively new aspect of wine that is absolutely ripe for innovation at the moment is modern technology, and social media in particular. Admittedly, it’s not necessarily an area of expertise for the average person involved in the traditional wine industry. But the “direct to consumer” channel is a very interesting one for wineries to explore. It offers them a way to be creative with presentation, to do things that are more edgy. It’s also fairly low risk, and allows producers to test the waters, to see what resonates with their audience. And a crucial new development is the

opportunity to actually reach shoppers with targeted messages, when they’re in the wine aisle at point of sale. And that’s powerful.

      I have downloaded an application called “Crushed,” which claims to “enhance a wine lover’s life, in any setting”. It’s a social app that allows me to search or scan a barcode, explore wine information, track the wines I drink, create my own wine database, connect to social networks like Facebook and interact with like-minded wine enthusiasts. Currently, it’s predominantly American orientated, but given the speed at which modern technology works, it will, no doubt, expand to a more worldwide perspective in the very near future. And indeed, there are many similar wine apps available these days.

      Clearly, the wine world will have to continue to adapt to the revolution in communication. Similar to so many other industries, it will find itself ever more in the position of having to communicate with the consumer. This suggests that more people, via more platforms, are chasing a finite level of reader attention. And when saturation point is reached, the content providers and marketing gurus will be fighting ever more ferociously for a smaller slice of the consumer attention pie. The good news for wine enthusiasts is that the rise of social media, blogging and specialist websites means that they have access to really good wine content, and most of it free. A possible downside is that these specialist sites typically only appeal to those who already have specialist interest. And the decline in more general and light-hearted wine columns (hopefully, like this one), which may well catch the attention of a browsing reader, serves to reinforce the notion that wine is the complex domain of the privileged few.

     However, social media can help in breaking down these perception barriers and in reaching everyday consumers. In some ways wine can be a problematic product, in that buyers usually need to taste it in order to know if they like it or not. Since there are more than 10,000 labels on the market, wine can be especially confusing, and therefore consumers often rely on experts and friends to help them determine which wine to purchase. In the past, they consulted books, magazines and newsletters, but more increasingly social media is the obvious place to seek advice in order to reduce the risk of buying an unsuitable wine. Statistics from Google show that “wine” is one of the keywords that appears more often than many other consumer products.

      We had the de-mystifying simpler-labelling revolution a while ago. And now the social media revolution should further help to quash the perception that wine is elitist, and difficult for non-experts to fathom. And progressive (often smaller) wine companies that are using these new tools efficiently are not advertising, but instead creating bonds between themselves and the consumer, thereby establishing loyalty. The customer isn’t considered as an asset anymore, but as a person to interact with, and to satisfy. Marketing is not an effective means to create a relationship with people, but rather a means to provide a straightforward message to the consumer, without receiving direct feedback.

       Social media has obviously impacted modern marketing. Consumers are now hyper-informed on many products, and continuously need to know more about the product they intend to purchase, and want feedback from other purchasers through word of mouth. Social media helps limit uncertainty before purchase, and increases transparency of companies because the consumer gets involved. I believe Jacob’s Creek has over a quarter of million likes on Facebook, and more than 5,000 followers on Twitter. And research has shown 80% of online shoppers are guided by reviews from other consumers. This is logical considering that shopping remains a social activity, where people can interact with each other, and share opinions on more complex products, like wine.

         I’ve heard it said, “Social media is word of mouth on steroids.” Well, word of mouth has always been a major communication tool for the wine industry. And happily, it looks set to continue that way with the tech savvy new generation of wine lovers. Oh and by the way, please take a look at the website, and don’t forget to like us on Facebook!


Peter James


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