Archive - marketing RSS Feed

Facebook Deals with Wine

Another week, another bit of our world is touched by Facebook, as Facebook Deals launches in the UK as well as in Germany, France, Italy and Spain.

kid in a candy shop.
Image by rhoadeecha via Flickr

Facebook launched Facebook Places in the UK a few months ago but if you’ve never heard of it, I’m not TOO surprised. It followed the path of two much more focused players in the location-game – Foursquare and Gowalla. These two, particularly Foursquare, have been very successful social networks for users of smartphones with GPS, such as iPhones and Android devices, that allowed people not only to chat to friends, but also let them know WHERE they were.

HIDE AND SEEK

If you are not already involved, it sounds creepy. It can be! But then remind yourself that so did blogging, Twitter and Facebook itself until you became involved (as I guess you will have by now). Negative, pleaserobme games aside, these location based services offered several benefits:

  • USERS could add SPECIFIC location information to their messages to friends. When you “check-in” you are not just broadcasting a location, you are adding location information to a message. Subtle, but important difference
  • FANS could share their favourite locations, or those that they discovered, with more people in order to promote the location – doing a free marketing ‘favour’ for the location
  • BUSINESSES could reward fans by offering them discounts for their loyalty and for sharing the information with their friends
  • BUSINESSES could also gather information on who was visiting and when, what they liked/disliked and what they were interested in, in order to improve their services

Remember, you can check in and NOT broadcast every single one to the world on twitter – only do so if it adds value to the conversation!

My favourite places to check in are local shops (I want to promote local business), the better restaurants and bars I go to that have good food and wine (because that’s what a lot of my followers are interested in) and unusual locations I end up around the world. I also like to check in (and not broadcast it though twitter) in places where I might have the time to meet up with other friends also checking in – airports, events, hotels, etc.

SHOW ME THE MONEY

When Facebook arrived, it seemed natural to add these activities to the list of things you share on Facebook, but there is so much there already it got rather lost (and was never as engaging). So why would users it on Facebook instead, … and why bother trying to use more than one network?

Gowalla offers regular users virtual “items”, “pins” and “stamps” to collect. Foursquare trumped this with “Mayorships” and then moved into location- & mayorship-based special offers.

Facebook needed to do something to incentivise users to switch, and instead of building something “better” they’ve decided to appeal to our love of free stuff.

The new service, Facebook Deals adds offers to this “check in” service, and they’ve negotiated deals with Starbucks, Yo Sushi and others for the launch.

LETS SHARE SOME WINE, HERE

I encourage businesses involved in wine to take part.

  • It helps your regular customers, who obviously appreciate you, to share information about you with their friends
  • You can reward them in some way, even if it is just a personal “thank you” for this word of mouth marketing
  • You can learn more about your customers to improve your own range of wine, your events and especially your communication
  • Producers can become engaged and learn where their wines are being sold & consumed

So what will be the first wine based offer in the UK? I’m guessing it will either be a big brand that is aware enough of these opportunities and has the deep pockets and distribution in place to do something worthwhile OR it will be a small deal by a small group of locations that can move a lot faster, such as a small chain of restaurants (any takers?). I look forward to seeing who gets in there first.

Wine offers and discounts have been the supermarket’s bait for so long that consumers are already used to thinking of wine as something to look out for only when discounted, so I would not be surprised to see it.

DEAL OR NO DEAL?

What I find worrying is that if Facebook Deals succeeds it will probably kill off the early movers which will also end the altruistic value exchange which was, for some of us at least, the best bit of these services. “Why bother checking in if they’re not offering me a deal?”

It’s the UK supermarket muscle game all over again.

They tell us “it what the consumer wants”, but when they kill off all the alternatives, we don’t really have a choice.

I think I shall hold off taking part, personally, until I see how they develop it. How about you?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Writing under the influence of twitter

I’m currently working on a project looking at the measurement of online influence. Or is it influence online? Or is that influence of online measurement? The whole concept is hard to grasp. What value do these values and lists have?

First question, what do you measure and what does it mean or imply?

'how to win friends and influence people'
Image by bubbo-tubbo via Flickr

For example, do I have “influence” because I have almost 8700 followers as @thirstforwine on twitter, or do I have 8700 followers because I have influence?

In fact, I only have followers because a few people thought I was interesting and friendly enough that they kindly recommended me to their friends, and then these people did the same. In that case THEY have influence. I now have *some* by extension.

Some influence measurement sites/scores

If you want to look into this area, here are some sites to check out and sign up to, including my current ratings for reference and to demonstrate the variability of scores and their scales:

  • PeerIndex: I have a PeerIndex score of 55 (and an ‘Authority’ score of 45)
  • Klout: My Klout score is 66 and I’m a “Thought Leader”
  • Twitalyzer: I have an impact score of 4.3% (which puts me in the 88.8th percentile) and I’m a “Reporter”
  • PostRank: Not even sure what figures to quote, but I have 411 “Engagement Points” so far for January. Good?

What does influence mean?

I think I can encourage a certain number of people to follow links, but who are they and what are they doing? Is it just robots? Are they curious? Or am I really answering questions they have, and therefore delivering some value?

In the case of wine, should it only be measured by an ability to get bottles into consumers hands?

Influence ought to mean “creates action or change”, but how can we measure that, even just online? What many tools really look at are just a proxy for that – followers, retweets, mentions, etc.

Worst of all, are these ‘influential’ lists just self-referential? For example, the lists of ‘top blogs’ add weightings to links from other ‘top blogs’ that mean that once you are ‘in the club’ you are more likely to stay there until you make the mistake of linking to newer blogs and giving them a boost up the ladder (note; this is intended to be ironic – seems we need to be sure to qualify things these days). Once you are listed as influential, it is more likely you will be followed, retweeted, quoted, measured and interviewed and so you become more influential.

What use is it?

Once I’ve had a look at the actual rankings I will also post some thoughts on how, if at all, these measurements might be useful for anything other than stroking a few egos.

The Plan

I will be working with one of the services listed above to put together a view of Wine Influencers on Twitter, providing them with a reasonably comprehensive list of wine twitterers to review. It should be fun to plug in some names to the algorithms and see what list/order emerges and then get your feedback.

Who would you say is “most influential” in wine (online, on twitter)? How do you even define it? Leave me a note to link me to you favourite list of wine twitterers and I will do my best to get them included.

UPDATE 25 January: In writing this post I realised I had not properly signed up for PostRank analysis. I have now done so and update the line above. Firstly, it is VERY confusing. I have no idea what stats mean, what is public, what is about me, versus the blog, and how it is calculated. However, it SEEMS to be extremely powerful and FREE, so I will keep looking into it. Any recommendations or help? Do you use it?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Can a cheap wine be too good?

I attended a “Spanish Wine on the High Street” tasting recently. The idea was to showcase the best, or most popular, Spanish wines in the ranges of the UK’s top supermarkets and high street wine retailers (or what’s left of them), as selected by their buyers. There were wines of many styles and prices there, including very expensive ones (and lots of Rioja). I have published some of my thoughts from that tasting on my Posterous blog, but I want to explore a separate question here.

What would you expect for 61p?

Supermarket wine shelves UK
Image by casavides via Flickr

We all want a deal. We all love finding a bargain, where the value for money, the “bang for your buck”, is great – especially if we are the ones to discover it and tell our friends and gain ‘kudos’. But sometimes, things might also look, and taste, too good to be true.

One of the wines was from a region already known to make decent, uncomplicated and good value wines. It was not stunning, but it was certainly drinkable, with nice fruit and a clean finish. The surprise was that it was selling for only £2.70 a bottle.**

Normally, if I even tasted a wine that cost this much, I’d expect something virtually undrinkable, simply because it is not possible to make a wine and sell it at this price. So, what does it mean?

I should say I know NOTHING about the deal that got this wine listed in this retailer, but let’s face some basic facts:

In the UK, on a retail price of £2.70 there is £0.40 of VAT and £1.69 of Duty (which is fixed for ALL wine bottles, of any price). That leaves £0.61

That 61p has to cover the cost of:

  • the glass bottle
  • printing the label
  • cork
  • capsule
  • cardboard cases
  • shipping (from the producer to the UK)
  • distribution (within the UK to all the shops)
  • PLUS the retailer’s margin (the supermarket has to make some money!)**

oh, wait …

  • growing the grapes
  • picking the grapes
  • crushing the grapes
  • fermenting the juice and storing it for a period of time
  • all the processes of ‘filtering’ and ‘preparing’ the wine
  • bottling, corking and labelling the wine
  • getting through a great deal of administration and bureaucracy
  • staff to do all this stuff
  • … and maybe leave some money for the winery?

Does that sound likely?

Wineries do their utmost to make a good wine in such a volume that they can make economies of scale and sell it at a reasonable price, but this is extreme. So what are the implications?

These deals are driven by a certain level of desperation. No winery can make money on it, but there are circumstances where “moving” a wine even if it is for almost nothing, is cheaper than the alternative. If your tanks are full of a good wine you have not been able to sell from last year, and you NEED those tanks for this year’s wine, and you can’t simply pour it down the drain … what can you do?

Retailers will gladly take it off your hand if they can make money from it. They’ll sell it cheap and get folks flocking to their shops.

The knock on problem is that we consumers say “Hurrah!” as the value for money is apparently very high, and we love spending so little.

We are then entitled to think, “well, if that wine tastes THAT good for £2.70 then why should I pay £4, £5 or £6, or even £10+?” But it isn’t economic. Wineries and regions will not survive selling wine at that price level.

All the good work by wine lovers to explain the agricultural, artisanal, low-margin, high unique value proposition of wines is lost in a storm of price discounting.

Selling decent wine at throw-away prices changes the expectations about wine as a whole, and particularly the country that it is associated with. It associates it with “cheap” wine, a moniker that is VERY hard to get rid of later (just ask Bulgaria, Portugal, and even Chile).

Too often they become, and remain the “best wines for not a lot of money” instead of the “best value for money” which they aim for.

I totally understand why wineries can end up in this situation in the short term, and that supermarkets are also commercially driven, but it does wine no good. If this becomes the norm (as, arguably, it has), good wineries that have to sell at properly commercial prices will not find space for their wines and are forced to compromise as well, or go out of business.

At the end of the day, cheap wine is usually terrible, undrinkable, nothing more than slightly flavoured, acidic alcohol. You get what you pay for … generally.

But if you buy that wine, and it actually tastes good, then what incentive do you have for spending more? After all, if we keep spending at this level, more wineries will be desperate enough to sell wine at these prices. Until they all close.

How can we change this situation, if retailers don’t care? Whose responsibility is it? Well, the government is poised to create a “law” to stop selling “below cost” … but how do you define that, and where does the money go? A topic for another day.

I think that good wine CAN be too cheap.

Do you agree? Do those who cannot afford more expensive wine ‘deserve’ good wine at cheaper prices despite what it does to the industry – is it just a case of survival-of-the-fittest?

By the way, for a variety of reasons, I am not mentioning the wine, producer or retailer that occasioned this thought. It is a general point I am making.

** I discovered that the £2.70 was a promotional price during a 25% off promotion. However, as this simply removed one aspect (the retailer’s margin), the general point remains although it would have to be taken into account

Enhanced by Zemanta

Wine blogging qualifications

I see that an interview I gave on the phone recently has been published in Harpers and I thought it would be better to add a few comments before I might upset any friends in the trade or blogging world.

I was asked, by Gemma McKenna at Harpers in the UK, whether I thought that bloggers “needed the WSET qualification”. The trade in general is very positive about it, understandably, and so most of the others she spoke to were fairly uniformly welcoming. It makes my dissent stand out all the more.

This is how I was quoted (full article is linked above):

What about the blogging community? Do they need formal qualifications?
Robert McIntosh, who runs wineconversation.com and is one of the founders of the European Wine Bloggers Conference, thinks not. “It’s a question that’s being continually asked and no one can agree,” he says. “I don’t think bloggers should have a qualification. The wine trade is really small, but so standardised when it comes to wine communication. One thing that puts consumers off is descriptions of wine that don’t mean anything to them – the average tasting note doesn’t help them understand.

“I personally never finished my WSET Diploma, but I don’t think that’s made a big difference to my life, other than missing out on contacts.

“The WSET tells you there is no right tasting note for a wine, but when you’re examined on a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, if you don’t tick the box “gooseberry” and instead write “it’s like being slapped in the face with a bunch of grass”, you won’t get the marks.

“I’m not trying to do down the WSET, I’d definitely recommend it to people. But if a blogger asks me if they need to do it before they start blogging I’d say no, do it your own way first. If they want to get into some more technical stuff later, then by all means.”

Consumers are telling us all the time that they don’t “get” wine writing, particularly professional tasting notes. What we need to find are new ways to engage consumers and make wine relevant to them. However, if we ALL take the SAME qualifications, we all use the same basis for reviewing wines, we create a uniformity of thinking that hampers our search for something new.

I think that much of what the WSET does, to standardise a general knowledge about the wines of the world and also bring a commercial element to wine learning that makes the trade more “professional”, is positive. It is useful to have a benchmark set for wine knowledge, especially if someone wants to work in the wine “business”.

But the question was, “do bloggers need the WSET”?. This is about wine communication, not wine knowledge.

Bloggers might ALSO be wine buyers, wine sales people and wine marketers. If in those roles they need wine qualifications, then that is a different point. But they could also be lawyers, computer programmers, retired pilots, teachers and much, much more.

I am concerned about their role as ‘people who express their opinions, experiences and knowledge via the means of a blog’. Passionate wine lovers who take the time to share that with others via a blog will generally also try and learn more about the wines, regions and people behind them, but do they all need to study the same curriculum?

I feel very strongly that the world of wine communication would be a poorer place if anyone who wanted to express their opinions about wine had to take a qualification, never mind the same one. If we really want creativity we need to welcome and support alternative points of view, and different ways to express that experience.

Of course, you are entitled to a different point of view.

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Pre EWBC Post

It is the final countdown for the start of the third European Wine Bloggers Conference, the annual gathering of wine communicators of all types, and this year representing 30 countries.

There is so much about this event worth sharing but I have to be brief – I’ve a conference to put on and more than 386 wines to taste!

EWBC 2010 Venue
Image by Ryan Opaz via Flickr

First, thank you so much to my amazing partners in this venture – Ryan & Gabriella Opaz of Catavino.net. We’ve got so many ideas of great EWBC related stuff, I am SO excited about what the future will bring.

We are also so glad to have put together the kind of event that can bring together wine lovers from so many different backgrounds and locations. 180+ delegates from 30 countries is an amazing statistic for a young conference in this area. Check out the live streaming page for videos and tweets to follow the event.

We are forever grateful to the sponsors that make these events happen. Our past sponsors, Dinastia Vivanco and ViniPortugal are still involved with the EWBC – that must say something! This year we are so excited to be working with the fabulous team at Austrian Wines and I am REALLY looking forward to learning more about the fabulous wines of this country.

Finally, the full benefit of the event is hard to measure. We hope the visitors learn about, and love, the wines of the sponsors for themselves, but also on their blogs. We hope to see A LOT more content about Austrian wines, grapes, regions and foods in the coming months. But there are also all intangibles, such as the contacts made, the collaborations established and the many new opportunities created when barriers of language and distance are broken down and people find a common cause.

I look forward to sharing some thoughts on the above over the next few days and hope you enjoy reading it – and maybe consider attending next year – we’ve got more exciting things planned for then too.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Page 7 of 19« First...«56789»10...Last »