Tag Archive - Spain

Case Study – Social Media Works for Tea

One of the problems with the “should I use social media” discussion is that people who do not, and never will, use these tools natively are the ones making the decisions.

Digital Natives‘ are people who were born in a world where the landscape was always “digital”. If you extend this thinking you then have “social media natives”. I like to say these people are the ones who see no need for a phone book, printed map, or rolodex. I’m almost one of these. I say almost because I still find some things easier to do offline than online, but that is changing quickly.

I start with this because in my daily life, when I want to buy something or learn about something, my first stop, no matter what, is Google. I guess I can see that changing to Bing or Twitter or Facebook at some point, but the fact is that the “web” is my primary destination.

And so, my story begins.

This Christmas, my sister invited my family to stay at a rented house in the Cotswolds for a few days. Great idea! Countryside, hiking, long meals, lots of wine, … a perfect holiday. To make the holiday with family all in one house go smoothly, she gave us all small gifts to help us enjoy our stay. One of these was a not-to-be-mentioned specialty tea company’s assortment of teas. Each person received a different flavor based on their personality. A great gift, and while I wasn’t at that moment a big tea fan, the quality of these teas released a passion in me. I fell in love with them, primarily due to their freshness and quality. I was hooked, and when I got back to Spain I quickly raced to Google to help me fuel my addiction. It turns out that I was in luck as they were available to ship to Spain at a reasonable price.

One week later I was sitting at home with boxes of new teas and was ECSTATIC about beginning my reintroduction to whole-leaf teas – a reintroduction that made me realize how similar high quality teas and wines can be … but that is for another article. The point is, I immediately starting tweeting my satisfaction and including the account of the relevant company in my tweets. I sent a letter to them by email saying “thank you for your great teas”. I even went to their web2.0 website and left comments lauding the greatness of my new favorite teas!

The result: nothing. Not a single “thanks”, “good to hear”, “Happy you’re happy” or other comment. Just silence. Cue the crickets.

I was crestfallen, even heart broken. The packaging was cute, the brand adorable. Expensive, sure, but the quality was amazing. Yet they seem to be fakers in the social world, content to put up twitter and facebook logos on their sites but not ‘walking the walk’.

I considered buying from them again. The quality was great but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I simply didn’t want to support a company who didn’t appreciate me as a customer. So I returned to Google.

This time I found another company with a similar selection but a little less shiny! Less marketing and more tea. A site that was a bit clunkier, and packaging that appeared a bit dull, but they had what I wanted, so I dove in and bought a few sample packs. After selecting various kinds to see what they were like, I hit send.

And then … turn up the happy music. After only a few hours I received an email … from the owner no less. An email that said:

“Thank you for your order, it appears you have a great selection of samples. I’m going to throw in a few of my own favorites, let me know what you think!”

Yeah! I was acknowledged.

Today I received my new teas. I haven’t tasted them yet, but I have 10 new teas to try and a person who is listening to what I think. I’m pretty sure I’ll find a few that I like and I am 99% sure that I will be ordering again. They are also going to be talked about on my twitter stream, facebook page and probably over at LiquidAgnostic.com. At the very least, they are going to sell a pack of tea every month or so to me, and probably to a few of my friends & followers. The cost: 1 email.

If that’s not a killer ROI, I don’t know what is.

I’m off to boil some water.

Photo credit: Ryan Opaz

You don’t “need” an app for your wine business

Recently I was talking to a friend who was doing project management on a mobile phone app for a department within the Catalan government. Voicing his many general frustrations with working for the government, there was one particular issue that caught my ear.

He stated that all they seemed to know about the project when they approached him was that they “needed” an app. Loosely, they knew they could do something with maps in the city of Barcelona, but most importantly they “needed” an app.

Let me be absolutely clear, no one needs an app.

What people do need is to solve problems, or simplify elements of one’s business or job. These are the starting points. No one would say “I need a shovel”, then go out and buy a shovel without knowing what you’re going to use it for. If you need to dig a small hole, you buy a shovel. That said once you know the size of the hole you need, you might decide that a shovel is  the wrong tool.

I know “apps” are in fashion but a useless app built only for the sake of “having an app” is not only a waste of money, but can reflect negatively on your product overall. Asking your consumers to download an app when they visit your site builds expectations, and if when they decide to download it all they get is the same content you have on your website already, but in a smaller, less convenient form, you’re not thinking of your consumer, but rather your ego.

That said, there are a lot of things today that could and would benefit from having an app, but rather than thinking about the app first, figure out the problem, develop a solution and consider whether an “app” is the best way to solve the problem.

Cheers

The Wine Show Merry-go-round

It is a really busy time, and a great time to taste wine.

Today, and for this weekend, I will be at The Wine Show in the Business Design Centre in London showing off some of the wines I represent in the UK on the Wines from Spain stand (come over to say hello), but also speaking to other exhibitors about what they are doing to reach wine consumers, and about their innovations.

Then it is the turn of the European Wine Bloggers’ Conference taking place in Lisbon from the 30th of October to the 1st of November 2009. There are already 117 confirmed participant bloggers from across Europe but also further afield. I am particularly excited to know that we have so many friends from the US and Canada coming too as I have yet to attend the US version of this event. Plenty of great wine and food will be consumed alongside the more serious conference discussion programme.

Then it is back to the UK to take part in The Wine Gang Christmas Fair on November 7th, 2009. There will be literally hundreds of wines there for you to taste PLUS I’ll be helping to showcase some great food and wine bloggers, recording what we get up to on the day and the impressions of the wines.

After that I skip off to Rioja a few times for the Wine Future conference and then a further couple of trips with wine lovers later in November and December.

Somewhere in there I hope to bring you updates on some of the exciting wine developments I’ve been learning about in packaging, research and even games! (more soon)

This blog is not updated every day, but if you want to stay up-to-date (and until I manage to bring it all back into one place) you can follow me on twitter and on the various sites linked above. I hope that somewhere along the way I can taste some of these wines with you in person.

Stay in touch! I may need your help to remind me where I am at any moment.

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Wine is not just for wine bloggers

This post follows neatly, although it wasn’t planned that way, from the last one.

A wine region in Spain wants to invite a select group of influential bloggers to visit their region, possibly in June, to learn about the wines, about the local food it matches with, and a little about the region itself as a tourist destination.

The first port of call, in Social Media, would be wine bloggers in key markets like the UK, … but why just wine bloggers?

I’ve said before that if we want to make wine more relevant and less threatening to more people, we need to “reach beyond the wine bubble” and talk to others who also influence consumers interest in wine, such as foodies, event organisers and travel bloggers. If this group felt comfortable discussing and recommending wines, the Wine Conversation would be transformed!

So, I’ve offered to put together a list of interested UK bloggers, but also of those active in other forms of Social Media, so that this wine region might decide to invite a broader selection of them and thus have lots of different people learn more about it.

Disclaimer bit: this is nothing to do with the wines or wine regions I represent, it is on behalf of a friend who is working with the wine region in question, and who asked me to reach out to my UK followers.

Why these categories, and why bloggers in particular?

The cost of the trip will not be insignificant for the wine region (few wine regions have big budgets) and they hope to have those who come write about their experiences and share them with their audiences. This is easiest where writing about the trip will be ‘in context’ for those bloggers. For example, it might not be that easy for a tech blogger to suddenly switch to writing about great wines from Spain (although I accept that depends on the blogger).

Also, why bloggers? All can be considered, but from the region’s perspective, they’d obviously love to have the kind of content, reach and permanent record offered by blogs (and I mean written word, photography and video). Remember, this is a BIG step for a wine region only used to talking to wine journalists working with established media.

Finally, I’m afraid they cannot bring everyone. I believe the trip will be for 5 or so people, so I’m afraid quite a few of you will be disappointed, but I promise to let everyone know if more such trips arise, so it’s worth getting involved anyway. I have no idea what criteria they might use to select a group, beyond making this a fun, influential and eclectic mix to see what an investment in Social Media might deliver for them.

I already have a pretty good list of foodies and some events people, as well as a few unusual requests that could be very interesting too, but if you want to throw your hat in the ring, you can do it publicly by leaving me a comment here, sending me a Direct Message on twitter, or an email at: thirstforwine AT gmail DOT com – and if you were to say WHY they should choose you, that might help :)

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A vintage experience

The recent Oyster & Champagne event at Galvin at Windows was a very interesting experience on several levels (see my previous post)

Firstly, on a personal level, I found the opportunity, and the ‘sense of occasion’, to try my first oysters extremely rewarding. I must say that I still don’t entirely see the attraction of oysters like this. Maybe I need to develop my palate for oysters (for example, one of the most popular was one of my least favourites, one I almost failed to swallow). I guess I have much still to explore. Thank you so much the the lovely people from Wright Brothers who did their best to try and educate me.

Next to the blind tasting of Champagnes, or as it turns out, a range of Sparkling Wines from France, Spain and England. Just in case it needed to be proven again, a blind tasting is a great leveller. Even the “experts” failed to spot that some of the wines were not “champagne”, so much so that these “other” wines will have surprised many of us. In fact, after tasting 8 wines, comparing notes around the tables, and adding all the results together, the top 3 “Champagnes” to match the oysters were:

  1. Gramona Vintage Cava 2000 – Spain
  2. Nyetimber Classic 2001 – England
  3. Galvin House Champagne – France

We didn’t collect the tasting notes, but I know that the Gramona was a pretty clear winner on our table and was mistaken for a top Champagne by a few. It was a nutty, biscuity, crisp and delicious. I must seek it out, but I have the feeling (like many great cavas) it is not available in the UK. Thank you so much to Bruno Murciano, Spanish Sommelier of the Year and now at Bibendum who provided this from his personal cellar I believe.

I think it was a great way to compare different styles of wine. In a way it was great to taste the wines blind so as not to bring in any prejudices (how many would have guessed a Cava would win?) but I also think it was a missed opportunity to talk about these different style to a broad audience. Maybe I’ll do that sometime.

From a Social Media perspective it was interesting to see the convergence of twitter, blogging and live streaming (courtesy of WorldTV on Ustream.com). There were a lot of things to learn and share at this event, almost too many. It was hard to move from kearning about oysters, to tasting wines blind and also sharing some of the experience of dining in a great restaurant with wonderful views. In the end we were a little rushed, but it was still a great experience and fun to meet up with lots of friends.

If you want to read more, read some of the twitter archive here, as well as some of these bloggers’ posts (updated as I find more):

Bibendum
Londonelicious
Trusted Places
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