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Young Americans and new sources of wine information for the curious

Publications Virtuelles pour le Vin In this, the third article in a series exploring trends in the online wine industry, Global Wine & Spirits takes a look at who drives wine consumption worldwide and the Internet's role in the evolution of this market.

While the United States is driving growth in global wine markets, and young Americans (under 30) are the fastest growing wine consumer segment, it is worth asking where they get their information. Online seems to be the favourite choice. As we have seen with Facebook and YouTube, we are now witnessing the emergence of wine appreciation sites built around social-networking tools and user-generated content.

Move over Robert Parker, I want to hear what my neighbour has to say.
The face of wine criticism is changing. And nowhere faster than in the U.S.A. and for no one faster than the Web 2.0 generation. If these young people are currently making it possible for Facebook to sell 1.6% of its equity for $US240 million, I want to know where they are headed ? and one place they are going is to wine appreciation sites!

Much like the Internet Movie DataBase (IMDB), the wine industry is currently witnessing the emergence of wine information/aggregation websites with varying degrees of social networking or interaction opportunities. If I trust my neighbour to tell me whether he enjoyed a particular movie, why wouldn't I trust him to recommend a wine to try? We are currently experiencing an unparalleled democratization of access to wine information, accompanied by a corresponding growth in online wine sales, due in part to a lengthening of the already ?long tail? of niche wine products offered online.

Questions wine marketers should ask themselves
For the moment, this trend is primarily an American phenomenon. When will it cross over into Europe and China?

     - The use of video and audio files is growing rapidly. How well am I using this technology, and are my         files on YouTube?

     - Have I taken stock of my online presence: Who is talking about me and my wines? What are they         saying? Where are my wines being sold online? How well are they targeted by search engines?

     - What is my online strategy? Am I on Wikipedia?

I can already hear the sceptics. Consider, however, that during the time it took to read this newsletter, more than 100,000 new photos were uploaded by Facebook users alone. Just imagine the growing number of new wine notes online!

Jean-Michel Stam
Vice-President, Sales & Operations
Global Wine & Spirits