A few weeks ago, Wine Communicators of Australia held a follow-up to their successful Under the Influence: Who really holds sway in wine buying decisions? seminar.
The session was moderated by the veritable Angie Bradbury (Dig & Fish) and panelled by wine legend Clare Burder, Max Allen (representing what he called the “heritage media”), Johnno Harris from Mitchell Harris Wines and Paul Ghaie of Blackhearts & Sparrows.
From Max’s always erudite column to Clare’s excellent wine (and drinks) courses and Blackhearts & Sparrows wonderful stores, all regularly come into contact with a broad range of wine drinkers.
The discussion was fascinating. The conversation flowed from what people are drinking right now to how they heard about it. The panels’ experience was essential in learning more about how people consume both wine and wine media.
Ultimately, it comes down to the wine drinker.
I have a few ideas surrounding this. We (REVEL) interact and engage with a heck of a lot of wine drinkers at our events, so when it was my turn to speak I asked the room to name their top three Instagram wine influencers in Australia. The room was effectively silent, highlighting the exact point I was trying to make: There is no ‘one’ influence in wine, but multiple. And this is a bloody good thing.
If you like art, you don’t follow just one artist. If you like music, you don’t just follow just one band.
You follow all related people and personalities that surround the category. Whether it be commentators, radio stations, DJs, record stores, festivals, platforms, digital publications, Apps, and, perhaps most importantly, you follow what your friends are listening to, and share it.
Wine is no different.
So while some may see a frustrating market fragmentation, I see multiple opportunities. There is an incredible opportunity out there for wine brands to explore and find their own niche and engage with their community on a variety of levels and platforms. Bloody cool, huh!
Never before have people been more engaged when it comes to what they imbibe, and they want to learn and experience it the same way they consume it: socially.
Wine is social. You open a bottle of wine to share with friends, so why should it be any different when it comes to the way people communicate and learn about it?
It is why I truly believe people* are the new wine media.
So if you’re a wine brand, drop what you’re doing and focus your attention on the people who actually drink your wine. And fast.
People don’t just follow one writer, maker, sommelier, retailer or event, they follow multiple. They follow their friends, their community, wine bars, restaurants, events, colleagues, waiters or anyone else they choose.
Why? Because it’s a part of their daily lives. Could you really ask for more?
It is not to say critical assessment, education or in-depth articles of wine are irrelevant, they’re not. Yet they should be seen as one of many multiple niches speaking to its own (primarily wine) audience. An audience that only represents 5-8% of the wine-drinking public. So try not to get too frustrated when your post about “the complex matrix of thiols” or “microbial yeast selections in the winery” doesn’t get much reach.
The good news is you already have an audience.
It’s now just a matter of how you communicate and engage with it.
*I deliberately say ‘people’ here and not ‘consumers’. Cows consume. People drink and talk and ask questions and have fun. They are the majority in wine, damn it, so please stop talking about them like they’re some sort of weird frustrating anomaly. Talk to them. They respond.