It is that time of year again. Lots of forms to complete, samples to request and deliver, and monies to pay.
The 2007 wine competitions “open their doors” in March so they can announce their results at the London Wine Trade Fair (or London International Wine and Spirit Fair to give it its full title – although I see they cheat on their URL as well themselves).
Are they worth the effort and cost? So many people are involved in the logistics of organising and running these events, and so much money is spent by producers to take part. What for?
Do the consumers really care?
There may be the occasional award that captures the public’s imagination (I imagine Decanter Man/Woman of the Year has some impact in certain circles), but does an IWC/Decanter/IWSC/etc. Gold/Silver/Bronze medal mean anything to the person being asked to spend their money?
I am dubious.
What are the key influencers on consumers these days beyond their “internalised” decisions (target price, recognised brand, previous experience, …)? Is it the Press? Is it recommendations? Is it extra gold stickers on the bottle? Can they even be influenced (I think the evidence points to “yes”)?
As with many things today a good thing has been taken to the extreme, so much so that it has become worthless. If there is only one award event, then communicating its results, and its value, would be easy. When there are multiple events, with competing messages and rules, conflicting results, innumerable categories and interminable lists of “winners”, they become worthless.
Worse than that, they become one more bit of the ‘noise’ facing a consumer trying to make a decision. Instead of making it easier, they make it harder.
Of course there is no going back, so maybe the trade needs to decide what it wants, who offers the best solution for achieving this, and back a single horse instead?