Good times this week at the London Blogger Meet Up (LBM) which combined two of my favourite topics thanks to Rob McIntosh of Wine Conversation, who treated us to both wine tasting and thoughts on the wine market and blogosphere. There was actually so much about the evening that got me thinking that I’ve had to create two posts, one on the wine blogosphere debate, and about the LBMs 2008. Wine post below.
Rob raised the bar on previous LBMs and had put in a lot of thought and effort, including:
- Working with six blogging vineyards to get them producing videos for the evening, as part of a policy of using social media as ‘an avenue of differentiation’
- Live blogged the evening to keep the excited vineyards updated with what was going on- a feat of multi-tasking with hordes of thirsty bloggers to attend to
- Asking us to tweet with the #ttl tag to win a bottle on the night
- Driving us to post afterwards to win a case of wine
- Talking on the issues faced by the market, see his slides below:
His objectives were to help these wine blogs break out of the echo chamber – ‘every industry has it’s social media bubble’ (something the London PR bubble been discussing this week). To make some online noise, and get us thinking differently about wine purchases. Success all round I think!
The market – The wine market is tough, it’s an agricultural not an industrial product so there’s a myriad of elements that can scupper a harvest before it makes it to the consumer – and then that’s when the real battle starts. Price based market, 50,000 brands, 1,000 blogs, 4 major retailers selling 80% of product, and most consumers aren’t really sure what they’re buying.
Ouch! So it’s one in which differentiation, through creating brand personality seems a savvy move, cue Rob working with these vineyards to help him promote them on the night via posts, videos and wine to sample. Those involved were:
- Vivanco Viura/Malvasia 2007, Bodegas Dinastia Vivanco thirstforrioja.co.uk
- Riesling Kabinett Trocken 2007, Weingut Clauer winzerblog.de
- Higueruela 2007, from Sta. Quiteria tintoralba.com
- Dinastia Vivanco Crianza 2004, Bodegas Dinastia Vivanco thirstforrioja.co.uk
- Bellamarsilia 2007, Poggio Argentiera poggioargentiera.com
- CVP 2007, La Casa de las Vides casavides.com
- Syrah 2004, Cortes de Cima cortesdecima.com
- Antique Oloroso Sherry from Fernando de Castilla - courtesy of jerez-xerez-sherry.blogspot.com (also writes about sherry here)
- Special Reserve Tawny Port, Quevedo Port Quevedoportwine.com
It’s worth having a click through to see the different styles and stages of blogging they’re at.
I think Rob’s spot on with this, there’s great potential in blogging for vineyards to differentiate themselves – for the customer to find something of substance and personality when they look for you online. Considering consumer behaviour I thought immediately of my Dad who is a big wine fan, and loves a good read of the label. I really like the fabulous Becky’s ’wine is the new vinyl angle’ - there’s similarities in the way people enthuse about wine and music. I can imagine Dad looking up blogs off the label of an evening – we have a laptop in the living room. That would get you hooked on a brand wouldn’t it, I will be checking wine labels for links from now on.
New distribution models - Becky also mentions the distribution issue, and while reading around this post I spotted Naked Wines founder Rowan Gormley’s Q&A on the new look E-Consultancy. Gormley was previously CEO of Virgin Wines, and this new venture is “an online ‘farmer’s market‘ to connect small wine producers with customers looking for new wines”. Naked Wines aims to cut out the middle men so the wine is cheaper for the customer, becuase the vineyards are focussed on making great wine, not David & Goliath marketing battles with supermarkets. The vineyards would still be wise to create their own blog properties and promote them, but this sounds like a way to sidestep the retailer problem described by Becky and Rob. I’d be keen to see what Rob thnks of it. It reminded me of the 1000 true fans for music – would this work for wine too?
The wine – So what did I think of the wines? All very lovely of course! I’m new to red wine so it was a bit of an education, I also tried my first ever sherry which was interesting and almost oily and like a spirit. Port was also new to me and a bit rich, but maybe I’ll grow into that one. My favourite has to be the Dinastia Vivanco Crianza, which I chose when I was lucky enough to win a bottle of it thanks to my tweet on the night. As someone new to red wine, I now know I like Rioja!
And my wider musings on the LBMs here.