Published 20 January 2012
In 2010, I wrote an article on the position of the wine industry in relation to technology. In short, it said the industry in the UK was in a pretty sorry state. There were obviously exceptions, and the huge online wine community was certainly not representative of how wine businesses were using it. So, one year on, is it any better? Have companies in the wine industry got their act together by the end of 2011?
On a positive note, I’m relieved to say that we haven’t been subjected to a wealth of pointless apps or an overuse of unnecessary QR codes (although there have been a few misguided attempts, such as the app of an Italian wine producer which contained tasting notes and a gimmicky screen where you could swirl a virtual glass of wine). A cynic may attribute this to the current economic climate curtailing non-essential expenses, rather than businesses making considered decisions; but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.
However, many wine companies (from producers to distributors) still seem to be floundering around. Some improvements have been made but, on the whole, the wine industry is still straggling behind most other industries.
For example, let’s take a look at how well the top 24 wine brands in the UK off-trade (as listed in the OLN Wine Report 2011 sourced from Nielsen’s Scantrack Service) are using Facebook and Twitter.
- 17 out of 24 (71%) have a Facebook page
- 11 out of 24 (46%) have an active Twitter account (although only 4 of those seem to be actually using it – see ‘The Mystery Shopper’ section)
- An alarming 6 out of 24 (25%) have neither a Facebook nor a Twitter account
More about Facebook
- Only 2 of the top 5 brands have a Facebook page
- Only 6 of the top 10 brands have a Facebook page
Of the 17 brands that have a Facebook page:
- 4 have over 10,000 likes
- 6 have less than 1,000 likes
- Only 10 have a clear link to their Facebook page on their website
Top 5 Facebook pages:
- Blossom Hill (72,586 likes)
- Jacob’s Creek (24,605 likes)
- Echo Falls (21,509 likes)
- Brancott Estate (13,036 likes)
- Canti (4,356 likes)
More about Twitter
Twitter is even worse:
- None of the top 5 brands has an active Twitter account
- Only 2 of the top 10 brands have an active Twitter account
Of the 11 brands that have an active Twitter account:
- The average number of tweets is 474
- On average they follow 423 people
- On average they are being followed by 640
However, it’s actually even worse than it looks because these stats are being skewed by two brands (Wolf Blass and Concha y Toro) which are way ahead of the others. Only these two brands:
- have tweeted over 400 times
- are following more than 500 people
- have more than 1,000 followers
But, this could just mean that some brands have discovered Twitter recently. So, I decided to check…
The Mystery Shopper
To see how well the brands use Twitter, I sent in a mystery shopper. The test was simple: the mystery shopper posted a tweet addressed to the brand asking them a simple question; the brand just had to respond to the shopper (the brand should really have engaged the user in a discussion, but a response was all that the test required).
Disappointingly, only 4 of the 11 brands responded – that’s a 36% response rate. This means that 7 brands were mentioned in a tweet (which even a Twitter novice would see), but failed to capitalise on it. Unforgiveable.
Top 4 Twitter accounts:
- Concha y Toro (3,088 followers)
- Wolf Blass (1,624 followers)
- Jacob’s Creek (941 followers)
- Rosemount Wines (642 followers)
Blanca Bustamante, Head of Corporate Communications for Concha y Toro UK, told me that they wanted to engage people by focusing on “interesting stories about our wines and the industry. Interesting and useful content is the key. We want to be perceived as a reference for consumers who are interested in Chilean wine and Concha y Toro.” My last blog tipped 2012 to be the year when South America not only increased its share of the mass market, but also got a foot hold in fine wine too. So send @conchaytoro a tweet and find out more. At least we know that they are listening.
As you can see, although some brands are using either Facebook or Twitter well, none of the top 24 brands is nailing both – but Facebook is certainly being used more proficiently than Twitter. It is fair to say that the majority are falling short… and the worst-performers are failing consistently. For example, to ensure that this article was accurate, I emailed all 24 brands to confirm the details of their social media accounts: 5 brands didn’t even reply to my email.
And remember, these are the top 24 wine brands in the UK off-trade. Come on wine industry, you can do better than this.