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Experiencing Wine

Just got back from a grand tour with my wife of part of Oregon's superb wine country. Thought I'd share some thoughts about wine and experience management.

What is wine? Sure, it's a fermented beverage. But just as sensory transference makes Coca Cola more than just sugar water, multiple components of wine tasting influence a person's experience of this classic drink. 

One of the great things about wine is that it captures just about every marketing hook ever invented by wily strategists. You can get people to love the label, the bottle shape, the sensuality, the location (country-branding is a huge new discipline), the people who make it, the history of the grape, the technology, the food-pairing options ... and with the latter, you bring wine into another marketing category: cuisine. Not to mention travel.

So, what is key to the experience of wine? It depends on what the consumer brings to it. Wine is a classic example of needing to capture the state of mind, value systems, and expertise of the customer in order to properly sell it. As rich as the opportunities are to sell wine, it is a complicated task to identify the right hook for the right customer. 

One hope, in my view, is the social network. Online social networks can develop information about consumers' preferences in related areas: travel, food, friendship, luxury, and so on. Using this information, wine sellers and restaurants can better communicate with customers. 

Who's doing this now? 

No one, as far as I know. 

Gentle people, start your engines.

Photo Copyright (c) 2008 by Paul K. Ward. Photo of the author and his wife Angela at the Sokol Blosser Vineyard near Yamhill, Oregon.

Reader Comments (2)

One thing you can count on, besides taxes and death: There's a social network for virtually every niche interest you can name:

For winer lovers, checkout this overview of social networks: http://www.calwineries.com/learn/wine-social-networks

For almost everything else, check: http://www.ning.com/

October 20, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAdam J. Martin

Thanks for the link, Adam!

The point I was making has less to do with social networks in the pedestrian sense, but those that rely heavily on analytics and profiling to automatically recommend other content (including advertiser products). What I'm looking for is a site that will determine all kinds of parameters about WHY I like wine.

There is a travel site I've found that gives you a "personality" quiz and then describes your travel style based on the results. It was spot on for me. With this information (in theory) the travel site could make the right kinds of recommendations to pique my interest. The business benefit is that the "hierarchy of values" alignment between my passions and the offered travel packages would be so strong I'll be likely to buy, likely to pay more, and (presumably) likely to enjoy the package and refer others to it.

Right now, the best I've seen on wine-oriented social network sites are reputation/recommendation systems where people review wines. The user generated content is spotty, and one person's wine tastes are actually quite different from another's -- reputation systems have scalar rankings (one dimensional), whereas preferences for wines are multidimensional. The spottiness of the content is also a major issue. There are so many wines, I haven't yet found a site that has wide AND deep wine content.

Thanks again for the links! It could be a great resource -- especially for this wine lover!

October 20, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Ward

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