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Who Cares What We Think? (The Influence of the Internet in the World of Wine)

So, really - who cares what I think?

Maybe not too many wine consumers.

According to a new Pew Internet study report, the Internet has a small influence on consumers' buying decisions when compared to offline channels (like recommendations from salespeople, friends, etc.). That includes Internet sites like, oh, for example, 1WineDude.com.

Hmm... maybe I should be putting a little more time & effort into my off-line consulting...

Anyway, according to the Pew report (which, to be fair, measured on-line impact on purchases of music, housing, and cell phones only):

"No more than one-tenth of buyers... said that online information had a major impact on their purchasing decision."
Well... crap!...

And here I've been trying to steer wine consumers right and not realizing the whole time that nobody is listening (er - I mean, reading).

What's also interesting (assuming you still might care what I think at this point) in the Pew report is the gap between those who actively contribute to the on-line dialog (by submitting reviews, for example), and those that simply consume the information:
"The large gaps between contributors and readers are understandable; not all consumers
are interested in lending their voice and many may be content to free ride on the efforts of
others. However, with the growth of broadband adoption at home and the buzz about
online participation in a Web 2.0 world, widespread activity in this arena might be
expected. Yet the data in this report do not show this; there is clearly a distance between the numbers of those who contribute and those who lurk."
I can't say I'm too surprised by that finding. In my experience, especially with people of my g-g-g-g-generation, I've found that there is a need to consume information via the Internet, but very little drive to create that information themselves.

Case in point: my friends will tease me about the number of websites that I maintain (official number: too many), and in the same conversation will ask me why I've not updated one of the websites in the past 3 days.

They want to consume - they just feel that it's someone else's place to author that content. Is this "The Architecture of Non-Participation?"

Deep down I'm a skeptical guy - which in my twisted in mind is being patriotic (hey, the U.S. was founded by a bunch of skeptics!) - but I gotta admit, deep down I am also feeling like wine is different.

I know, I know - wishful thinking, right?

But hear me out (if you still care what I think, that is): Buying wine is different than buying music or a cell phone, because wine is meant to be shared. By its nature it's a social beast, to be enjoyed with others. It's one of the few goods we can buy that actually becomes an event unto itself. A cell phone can be nifty but it's probably not going to be a lubricant for life. And try sharing your cell phone with someone else without going totally insane.

If you take a look at social networking websites like the Open Wine Consortium, Corkd.com, and CellarTracker.com, you will find lots of wine consumers willing to share their views, reviews, and recommendations. I would find it hard to believe that those interactions don't influence the wine buying decisions of consumers somehow.

And wouldn't it be great if, instead of wine distribution monopolies, stuffy media mags, and 2 or 3 critics dictating nearly all of our wine purchasing choices, we actually influenced each other and helped each other out based on our own experiences of wines that we thought actually tasted great?

But then again, who cares what I think?


Cheers!

(images: thoomp.com, allposters.com, imagechef.com)

1 comments:

Joel said...

EXACTLY why social technologies are SO important to the wine industry (and the future really). Wine IS inherently social in nature. Tapping into the only version of sitting there with friends and chatting about wine is so powerful.

I COMPLETELY disagree with the study w/r/t music. Some of the biggest social networks are music FAN SITES. And if you think that DOESN"T influence music sales then you're on crack...

p.s.- Comin' to the Wine Blogger conference?