We spend much of our time looking ahead at the intersection of wine and technology. As we take a look back on 2010, it is clear that the wine industry benefitted in large part from efforts in response to the great recession. We saw a spike in innovation as the community attempted to create value. The proliferation of new digital communities, social and mobile platforms, and ecommerce channels nearly rivaled the continued explosion in the number of new wine brands.
Making sense of these digital opportunities that have been presented to the wine community (both producers and consumers) requires significant analysis and thought to determine impact and value vs. cost and effort. In fact, we make it our business to know about most of them so we can guide the VinTank winery clients through this minefield with minimal disruption and maximum benefit.
Through this ongoing process we have verified what we knew about digital: every winery should be leveraging digital in some capacity. Some should be building around multiple strategic digital objectives, but ALL should aim to enhance their brand, create new vehicles for customer engagement, and to improve customer service. Service in particular matters a lot, and is the single biggest opportunity for wineries to differentiate, surprise, and deepen their engagement with customers. We have also come to a few conclusions: 1 – Some of these digital offerings are in very early stages and need to mature before they make a lot of sense for most wineries, and 2 – The best use of such tools is to identify and attract new customers, then engage with them in meaningful ways to ensure they remain in your network with the hope of converting them to influential customers.
Whether or not wineries have significant distributor relationships and business, most want to grow the direct to consumer (DTC) side of the business for obvious reasons. So it’s fortuitous that most of these new digital tools are DTC business centric. Some of the latest entrants are focused on the mobile digital arena and are raising the bar in fun consumer engagement causing early platforms e.g. Foursquare to respond with feature enhancements.
One that made our Christmas list this year is SCVNGR, a location based service (LBS) that leverages mobile social gaming to actively engage with consumers and build brands. It acts as a catalyst for attracting new customers through a community approach to creating ‘challenges’ (quick, fun things to do at places) and ‘treks’ (that connect places and challenges), and having sponsoring wineries, restaurants, and services offer rewards for consumers to play. The well conceived social features of SCVNGR enable deeper customer engagement that results in positive brand exposure and traffic. Coupled with SCVNGR’s eagerness to listen and adapt to features, we are betting they will be one of the relevant and useful platforms for the wine industry and beyond. As most people may know, we have developed a key partnership with Scvngr because we believe in the product so much.
Some downtown Napa businesses that offer Rewards already include: Sala Salon, Neela’s, Zuzu, Trattoria Uva, Bistro Sabor, Quent Cordair Gallery, John Anthony, Napa Valley Opera House, and Carpe Diem Wine Bar, more adding Rewards to their SCVNGR profiles in January.
At 6 pm on Thursday, January 6th VinTank will host a mixer to introduce wineries and local businesses to the SCVNGR platform and options. We look forward to hearing from current SCVNGR sponsors on success to date and insights learned. We hope you can attend.
Plancast meeting invitation: http://plancast.com/p/3b3z