THE BOOZE BIN
By Pia Mara Finkell (@piamara)
This is my favorite time of year. Holiday parties aplenty, wassail up the wazoo, and enough popped bottles to impress even Lil Wayne. It’s also a time to reflect on lessons learned throughout the year, and forecast trends to come, so we don’t get caught with our proverbial pants down.
Here’s a look at the major themes of 2010 that will continue to grow in the coming year, affecting wine and spirits (and in some cases other) PR professionals and marketers in 2011.
Top 5 Booze Trends of 2010:
1. Jump In, the Water’s Warm!
Wineries and other small booze businesses dipped their toes into the warm waters of social media in 2010. In what seemed like overnight, wine businesses around the world launched Facebook and Twitter pages, featuring them front-and-center on their respective websites. While most are just beginning to see the benefits of engaging customers in the digital sphere, a few stood out. Wineries like St. Supéry hired a full-time social media manager and moved from participation to engagement, driving unique content and even a global movement (e.g. #Cabernet Day).
2. Taking the Snooty out of the Wine Selection
I don’t think sommeliers should fret quite yet, but according to Wine Enthusiast magazine’s blog, several forward thinking restaurants have turned to IPad “wine tablets” for their wine and cocktail lists this year. From NYC’ SD26 to Chicago’s Chicago Cut Steakhouse to Atlanta’s Bone Restaurant, restaurants saw a boost in sales from the very first day they introduced the iPad wine lists to their customers. According to the The New York Times, wine purchases shot up nearly 11% overnight. “The devices seem to be spurring deeper interest in wine and empowering bolder, more confident selections, they say, potentially revolutionizing the psychology of dining’s most intimidating passage.”
3. Simplify the Shopping Experience
Following on the theme of demystifying the wine experience, 2010 marked the creation of some incredible and very functional tools to simplify shopping for wine, including wine apps, wine vending machines and even QR Codes on wine labels. Considering the now overwhelming selection, Mashable thankfully just put out a list of the top 10 iPhone apps for Wine Enthusiasts, pointing to, among others, Snooth Pro for their cool image recognition technology and PairIt! for their huge database of searchable wine pairings.
4. Social Media Meets Social Commerce
I’ve written previously about the rise of private online sales, with popular invitation-only wine flash sale sites like Lot18, Deals From the Vines and VineCrowd offering a range of heavily discounted, premium and sometimes small-production wines. Sites that are doing this well safeguard the integrity of the wines they promote and offer a new way for wineries on small marketing budgets to generate brand awareness and attract/engage new customers through trial.
5. Putting the Social Back in Social Media
While many forward-thinking wine businesses and regional boards have begun to engage potential customers and fans online, the most savvy have found ways to replicate that engagement IRL (“In Real Life”). Putting the social back in social media, smart groups like TasteLive and the VA Wine Board have run virtual tastings and tweetchats with local winemakers, wine bloggers and industry influentials, driving overwhelming consumer participation, media coverage (print, online and TV) and even a Twitter trending topic.
For predictions on future trends for 2011, the National Restaurant Association just released its annual list of food and drink trend predictions for 2011. I’ll write soon about some thoughts in this arena for wine and spirits marketing professionals.