I often find inspiration and valuable perspective looking at how other industries are dealing with the same disruptive trends that are impacting the wine industry.
When I learned that Brian Solis was interviewing Billy Corgan at SXSW this year, I was interested to hear what Billy had to say about social media and the music industry and more generally how artists are having to adapt. Although I haven’t found a video or transcript from the interview with Brian yet, the post and interview below from the blogger’s lounge provided some very interesting insight.
Some quick thoughts on yesterday’s announcement from Google that Google Analytics will now be measuring conversions from social media traffic sources and more specifically how this development impacts the wine industry.
My initial reaction? Meh. Sorry, GA hasn’t morphed into the BFG 9000 that will finally put down all the Social Media ROI “Walkers" that have risen from the dead en masse recently. (Sorry for that Walking Dead reference… Sunday’s season 2 finale is still lingering.)
As a technician, the GA enhancements have the appearance of merely tagging, tracking, and segmenting referral traffic from known social media sources that may eventually convert into sales on owned websites. This is a good thing but it’s nothing revolutionary. It’s a step in the right direction but large digital properties (should) have already been doing this for years now. Bringing this capability to small(er) businesses, though, is a big deal and Google should be rightly applauded for this advancement.
When it comes to the wine industry, though, there are far bigger obstacles to reaching online DTC nirvana than an aggregation of data into venn diagrams and line charts. The vast majority of wineries are small and individual relationships with customers matter most. As Gary Vaynerchuk likes to say, it’s small town. Due to the daunting barriers to purchasing wine online (three tier, most winery e-comm bites, wine is heavy/expensive to ship, it’s breakable, sensitive to heat, winery direct pricing has to guard against channel conflict, no immediate gratification, and on and on), nearly all wine transactions still occur offline. This doesn’t mean that activities in social media can’t impact wine purchasing behavior. Quite the opposite actually. Wine is ideally suited for social media as an experiential, consumable, luxury product. But the measurability of how these digital activities impact the full range of wine transactions is still not at hand.
We’re making progress but we still have a lot of work to do.
So as the wine industry continues to doubt the viability of millennials as a valuable demographic, we have this. It seems that not only is the “young crowd” not buying enough wine, now they’re actually hurting business!
He [Bruce Cousins of Armida] lost business because serious wine buyers didn’t have the patience for the traffic, he added.
"People think ‘Oh my God,’ and they turn around and keep going. So they (the young crowd) kind of scare business away," he said. "In the past I’ve said … these tasters are our future customers and we need to take care of them and service them. But there’s just too many of them. You just can’t do it."
…important to remember that truly disruptive work requires “pushing a snowball up hill with a blowtorch” (over the client)
— Often so true of our work with the wine industry.
Refactoring the school desk chair. Brilliant.
I was particularly drawn to the screenshot at the end of the post where Paul searched for Cornerstone Cellars on Google. Notice that all results “above the fold” are based on Paul’s social activity. No organic search results to be found! Think about what this means for SEO. This is a perfect example of how SMO (social media optimization) is at least as important as SEO. If your brand’s content, message, and locations are not socially engaged and shareable, they will not find their way into your social customers’ social graphs and search results. This is incredibly significant.
The traditional “Field of Dreams” thinking of throwing up a website, adding some SEO tweaks, and expecting search referral traffic to find you is outmoded. The influence of the social web is finding its way into all corners of the Internet. Not even the mighty Google search engine is immune.
I firmly believe the wine industry can learn a lot from the transformations that are already occurring in other industries as a result of social media.
If you’re in the wine industry and are a social media skeptic (or even a proponent), please take the time to watch the following video. To make this a more interesting experiment, substitute recording industry terms with analogous wine industry terms as you watch and listen.
Substitute “recording industry” with “wine industry”.
Substitute “tv” with “distributor controlled selection” or “control state”.
Substitute “grammy awards” with “traditional wine scores”.
Granted the substitutions above aren’t perfect and the wine industry has its own unique challenges. However, I think they’re close enough to assess similar impacts, and more importantly, the opportunities in front of us.