This post is part of a series of posts about le Vin 2.0 2011 where Robert Joseph presented on the topic of wine tourism and consumer psychology.
Robert Joseph at le vin 2.0
Robert Joseph started with a 2 minute biography of himself and then made a funny point. So far, 2 minutes about him and 0 minutes about wine drinkers. How typical of the wine industry! The rest of his presentation focused on consumers, their habits, and what they want in wine.
A large point he made was that we need to treat like wine like every other beverage. It’s a tough pill to swallow because everybody in the audience loved wine. But his point is that the majority of consumers don’t revere wine the way we do. There are split second decisions that people make to have a glass of wine or a beer or a coke or some water. The majority of consumers are simply pleasure-seekers and wine should try to deliver that pleasure.
The good news is that wine tastes great! So all we have to do is market its wonderful tastes. The bad news is that we are awful at conveying how good wine is. Instead of reassuring our potential customers that the wine they are thinking of purchasing is delicious, we plague them with esoteric region names, unpronounceable words, and intimidating etchings of our estates. Instead of promising a good time, many wines fill their potential clients with anxiety and dread.
As a result, many people would rather avoid wine entirely (which Joseph uses to explain the dwindling wine consumption numbers in France). Other people will simply seek different wines that are marketed more simply. He picks the example of Cupcake Wines who are inanely simple in their marketing. Everything is Cupcake Merlot or Cupcake Chardonnay or Cupcake Vodka (because once you launch a successful brand, you might as well run with it!)
On the bright side, it doesn’t have to be quite as simple as Cupcake. We can still try to deliver actual information to the consumer, but we have to be smart about it. Joseph cites a study he conducted where they put a QR code on a wine bottleneck. The QR code could send the shopper to a variety of different presentations. And then people were asked if that information made them want to get the wine or not. Here are the different presentations starting with the most popular (the number in parentheses is the percentage of people who said it was good information):
- how it tastes (47%)
- grape varieties (44%)
- food & wine pairings (41%)
- how can you save money on it (39%)
- where to buy it (38%)
- how to serve it (38%)
- information about where it was made (38%)
- information about how it was made (28%)
- information about the producer (18%)
- video of the winemaker (12%)
- video of the winery (9%)
People almost don’t care about where the wine is from, who made it, what drives us. Really, most consumers in this study wanted to know what the wine tasted like.
And the next step is a big ongoing research project called doilikeit that studies the relationship between wine preferences and other food/beverage preferences. And with that data, one day, we’ll be able to recommend wines based on what sort of food you like or what kind of soda you drink. Oh you like ginger ale? Try a riesling. Part of this terrifies me but part of it is also really cool. Like a last.fm for food. Oh and why stop there? Why not combine the last.fm data with doilikeit data! People who like Tom Waits Bone Machine era looovve O’Vineyards. Oh you like Tom Waits? Try some O’Vineyards O’Syrah.
And then combine rottentomatoes data and all the data on your TESCO shopping card. And suddenly you can tell potential drinkers that if you like Tom Waits AND bought The Muppet Movie there is an 86% chance you’ll enjoy O’Syrah 2009. Brave new world.
I feel really good when my wines receive positive comments and I brag about them in this blog. However, I still feel strange bragging about nice things that get said about me. But my parents assure me that the Internet exists in large part to brag about your exploits.
So uhm Robert Joseph, who wrote/edited a lot of the reference materials we used long before we ever owned a vineyard, was contributing to the Grenache Symposium. And then we met again at a Sud de France event. And he said something very nice about me on Twitter. So I’m going to use this space to blush and say thank you to him and that I’m very flattered.
And maybe this is a place to mention that I am only interesting in this region thanks to the support of my friends and community that allow me to get their message out on the web. In a way, this is about how cool YOU all are.
Here’s to discovering many others of greater import to this beautiful region! 🙂
And follow Robert Joseph on twitter or follow some of the projects he’s involved in like DoILikeIt. I swear that he’s interesting when he’s not talking about me.