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Do Wine Blogs Matter For Selling Wine? (The 1WineDude Conversion Rate)

Vinted on February 11, 2014 binned in about 1winedude blog, best of, commentary, wine blogging, wine buying

One of the criticisms most often levied against wine blogs is that they don’t “move the needle” in terms of wine sales.

Let’s forget for a moment that where I come from, coverage that costs me next to nothing for a product that results in even a handful of additional sales (and additional exposure) – that I otherwise would never have seen – counts for something.

The crux of this criticism is that coverage of wines on the virtual pages of wine blogs does not result in materially meaningful and/or measurable differences in the purchase volumes of those wines. Presumably, this is in comparison to similar mentions in print media (however, it’s worth noting that I’ve yet to see any hard evidence in the form of real data to support print media coverage having a sales bump effect, but I have anecdotal evidence from some California winemakers showing that it does not, as well as some from small producers indicating that some wine blog mentions have in fact increased DTC sales… which I can relay to you privately some day if we ever meet and you buy me a beer…).

The counter argument is usually a combination of two things: 1) that it’s extremely difficult to measure the impact of any media coverage on wine sales, regardless of the type of media, and 2) it’s the aggregate of blog and social media mentions (outside of concentrated special events, promotions, and the like) that amount to an increase in mindshare and small, one-consumer-at-a-time sales that otherwise wouldn’t otherwise have happened. In other words, wine blogging and social media mentions result in a stream of sales that are aggregated from tiny, rivulet-like trickles in combination, and so wouldn’t generally amount to a perceivable spike but do, in combination, make a difference. [ For an example of these arguments, see the mini-debate generated on this topic generated in the comments section of one of my recent posts here ].

I can now supply some data in support of that counter argument, by way of one example: namely, 1WineDude.com.

While I will not supply exact numbers (only because don’t have permission from all of the parties involved to do so), I can give you approximations that I think lend some credence and strength to the counter argument, though I strongly suspect it will be ignored by the wine cognoscenti, who have in my experience demonstrated a severe allergic reaction (sulfites got nothin’ on this!) to facts, data, and evidence if those things do not already support their own already-entrenched beliefs…

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Wine Bloggers = Wine Consumers. Get Over It. (ESC Dijon Bourgogne’s Wine Blogger Study)

Vinted on January 21, 2014 binned in best of, wine blogging, wine news

The ESC Dijon Bourgogne (Burgundy School of Business) has recently wrapped up its three year study of wine blogging worldwide, the results of which have been released in a free whitepaper titled World Wide Wines: Digital Writing on Wine.

This is important not just because it sounds like The Scorpions’ kick-ass live album World Wide Live, but because the ESC Dijon Bourgogne study is the longest and most comprehensive view of the wine blogosphere ever attempted. Is it perfect? No (Exhibit A: calling Paul Mabray and I – now in or forties – the “younger generation of wine bloggers;” maybe compared to the average age of the wine guys writing for traditional wine media outlets…). But given its scope, its incorporation of other important wine blogging studies, and its length, this is as close as we’ve got to a litmus test on the global state of wine blogging.

For me, the most telling and pertinent results of the study come in pages 23-26 (more on that below), in which the study adds further proof to the idea (or what we should now probably consider the fact) that there is no real difference between wine bloggers and wine consumers.

Think that wine bloggers are “wasting” time by talking to one another, and don’t reach “real” consumers who spend their money on wine? Sorry, you’re harboring an antiquated view that doesn’t stand up to common sense, the laws of statistical averages, or the data offered in ESC Dijon Bourgogne’s three year study. If that’s still your view, then maybe you should just go renew your membership to the Flat Earth Society instead of seeing the study details I’m about to present…

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Why Rare Wine Collecting Is Kind Of Like Having Sex With Animals (Thoughts On The Rudy Kurniawan Fraud Trial)

Vinted on January 7, 2014 binned in best of, commentary, wine news

By now, you’ll probably have heard that alleged fine wine counterfeiter Rudy Kurniawan has been found guilty of fraud in court (well, he was found guilty of wine fraud during trial in court, not found guilty within a court, although technically actually he was found guilty within a court room… oh, forget it).

You’ll also, no doubt, be nursing a raging New Year’s Eve hangover. So I’ll try to make this pithy since most likely I will also be nursing some manner of raging NYE hangover.

In the event that you’re a self-professed wine geek who hasn’t yet gotten up to speed on the whole Kurniawan Kerfuffle, I recommend taking a quick diversion over to the fine summary of Kurniawan’s alleged fraudulent activities at NPR, so that you can do a rapid catch-up.

All set? Good. Now I can explain why Kurniawan’s guilty verdict means almost nothing whatsoever to the fine wine market, and why I think it will almost certainly not even make a dent in the purchases of fraudulent wine worldwide.

But, in order to do that, I first need to explain why the collecting of rare fine wines is like having sex with animals

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Why Social Media Advice From Traditional Wine Media Is Almost Always Wrong

Vinted on November 19, 2013 binned in best of, commentary

[ Editor’s note: the following screed is nearly 1500 words long. The Cliff Notes version, for those who are in a hurry: be very careful about where you take your advice regarding wine and social media, lest you miss out on worthwhile authoritative voices/resources (as a consumer) or miss opportunities to build brand awareness and acquire customers (as a producer). ]

There’s no delicate way to breach this topic, and so I’m going to risk pissing off a lot of people by jumping right in and starting it this way:

From whom should you take your social media advice? Choose one of the options below:

1) Someone who ran Internet web hosting for some of the most successful brands in the history of social media (including Skittles, Snickers and M&Ms), who makes $0.00 from social media consulting, and who bootstrapped his way from total unknown to authoritative in the wine space completely via online channels,

or…

2) A traditional media outlet source that has little or no experience operating in social media channels, has a vested fiscal interest (advertising) in pushing wine brands away from inexpensive social media channels and into (more expensive) print advertising spending, and who publicly decries social media / blogs while at the same time advertises on those online channels and repeatedly asks those same blogs it decries to cover its events and press releases?

Hello… Paging Ralph Nader…!

The answer seems ludicrously straightforward, and yet I regularly watch wine brands go with #2, potentially to the detriment of their long term bottom lines. And yes, for the record, I’m the guy in the first example above, but that’s not central to the point – you could substitute anyone in the #1 slot with both social media and wine experience, like Paul Mabray of Vintank, for example. The point is that wine brands accord far, far, far too much weight to the social media prognostications and pontifications of OpEd pieces, newsletter introductions, and blog posts from staff members of traditional wine media. These media folks are often fantastic tasters, great writers, and immensely intelligent people who routinely, somehow, manage to make themselves sound like complete idiots by holding a bully pulpit sermon on topics about which they know almost nothing. It’s like eighty year old men talking about teenage girls’ high school fashions, or ten year old boys talking about prostate health or political voting strategies.

Seriously, people, this is getting embarrassing

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