|Monday, 14 February 2011|
|The wine blogging community was up in arms last week over a report from Wine Intelligence, which said independent bloggers were one of the “least trusted sources of wine information”. Harpers asked bloggers, merchants, online retailers, and Wine Intelligence for their views.
Wine retailer and blogger Peter Wood runs Luvians bottle shop in St Andrews in Scotland, and blogs at thetastingnote.com
The fact that wine customers don’t trust bloggers to give them recommendations doesn’t surprise me. I know that UK wine consumers still rely on either print media or their local merchant for recommendations.
Rowan Gormley, founder of online retailer Naked Wines
We know this because we tested it. We picked wines with gold-medals, a good journalist recommendation, and high customer ratings. We split our customer base into three, and tested which one drove more sales. The answer….what other customers think. That is real people, voting with real money.
Bloggers DO have a vital role, which is that they are in a position to explore the long tail. There are thousands of talented winemakers, who don’t have the marketing muscle to give their wines the space they deserve, and bloggers are better placed to connect them with real wine drinkers than anyone else.
My advice to wine bloggers is to make a decision…do you want to be relevant or not?
Rob McIntosh blogs at wineconversation.com, and is co-founder of European Wine Bloggers Conference.
If we speak to a merchant, we know they are working for a retail brand, be it large or small. They may have expertise and be friendly, but they have wine to sell. If we build a longer-term relationship with them, we may learn to trust them.
Wine merchant Rupert Pritchett owns Taurus Wines, operating from his Surrey store near Bramley.
The amount of trust customers have in us never ceases to amaze me — especially when it comes to their weddings.
In terms of blogging and social media, you do need to bear in mind who your target audience is. Our location is a very conservative and traditional and our youngest punters are in their late 20s. The core is made up from successful business people in their 50s.
With regard to trusting a blogger I think it all comes down to who they are and how much of a ‘brand’ they have become – I am sure people have great faith in the blogs of well respected independent journalists such as Jancis Robinson, Tim Atkin, Simon Woods et al. However, anyone trusting A.N.Other random with time on their hands who feels the need to pour their heart out online with no editorial checks needs to get out more.
Following the PR adage that all buzz is good buzz, we should be fairly pleased with the reaction to our report. It’s hardly surprising: you would need to be a comatose blogger not to react to a report that says one in five consumers trust what you say. You could argue that 20% trust levels for such a new medium is quite good. And what’s not at issue is the future importance of this medium as a way for consumers to engage with wine.
The blogosphere lays three charges at our door following the report:
Starting with the third charge, I tend to agree. Press releases need to be short and newsworthy to function.
As for the second charge — we asked wine drinkers how much they trusted wine bloggers, when most of them (84% in the UK) don’t use this medium for wine. You tend to have less trust in something you don’t use, but it’s also possible you don’t use something because you don’t trust it.
But if we isolate UK respondents using social media for wine, trust levels rise to 44% of users (it’s 19% for the total population). Unfortunately this still leaves the majority of social media users either distrusting or indifferent to bloggers’ opinions. It also means this source still comes seventh (out of seven) in terms of trustworthiness even among active social media users – behind supermarkets, wine region promotion agencies, and brand owners themselves.
The final charge – that we didn’t ask the right questions – is one that we can debate, and in doing so improve the kind of questions we should be asking.