I often buy wine and I know other vinopreneurs share a similar aspiration. But what I feel is lacking is the ability for an entrepreneur to capture what wine consumers are saying. So I built software to what I hope will lead to further develop a concept that I have related to the subject. The concept is called “V-Cubed”, which means “vino veritas for vinopreneurs”.
What is a vinopreneur? To me, it is the set of ideas generated by anyone who is interested in the wine industry and who takes the idea and turns it into some kind of reality in order to achieve specific personal, business or life goals. It may be writing a blog about wine. It may be ideas about how to reuse wine corks. Or it may be to collect wine labels. For me, it is about how to bridge software with my wine experiences.
V-Cubed is meant to bring wine consumers together to share their similar experiences and allow wine producers to tap into that knowledge base in order to better understand what consumers are thinking in terms of fads, trends and preferences. The approach to the V-Cubed site is quite simple. You post a wine profile which acts as your log of wines that you drink and enjoy. Other users build their wine preferences and the system matches things together, leading to opportunities to hook up together to talk about the wines that people have had and in which others are interested.
The added value from the idea is the ability for users to collaborate on their experience, share opinions and exchange likes and dislikes. In turn, the information, all posted under the realm of a social network in which specific data is shared and open between consumers and producers, is meant to be consulted by producers in order to tap into what consumers are saying about not only their wines but other wines in particular. V-Cubed is an open forum not to discredit a winery but to promote the exchange of key information to help wineries develop better products and services.
In a recent study, wineries have identified what consumers are thinking as a key factor in trying to obtain data about why they choose a specific wine over another. After reading this, I got to thinking about other things I most likely would want from both perspectives: consumer and producer.
My consumer hat
When I walk in to a wine store, which is an LCBO either in my community or across the street from where I work in downtown Ottawa, I often know from what label I am going to buy. More often, though I go in with a knack for simply exploring the many options available to me. As a consumer, I value choice. Choice is like a currency. Without it, I can’t spend freely. With it, I can spend but also base my spending habit on specific wines. I have some “go-to” wines which I consume on a regular basis. Other times I am open to tasting and trying wines from diverse parts of the world. So when I do buy a wine, why did I choose a specific brand? Here are some of my thoughts on the motivation to buy a wine.
- The label alone is attractive. While labelling is both a brand indicator and marketing tool, I often choose wines with vibrant colours, and pay less attention to the vintner or winemaker printed on the label. Does a colourful, vibrant wine label mean a better tasting wine? Of course not, but let me tell you this. If they spend a good deal of time thinking about the marketing and branding, do you think they spend less time on developing the quality of the wine?
- The label emits a connection to an historical moment to which I am immediately attracted or in which I have an immediate interest. I experienced this recently with a brand which is also an advertiser for a nice little show that I have been watching. I like history and this wine was able to provide an nice introduction to the history behind the nature of that show. So I started having a glass or two during the episodes. Imagine if you could buy a wine from the cellar of the White House in Washington or House of Windsor located in England, Berkshire. Wouldn’t you pick a wine that had a neat little story behind it and based on the short history just try it out?
- The bottle’s shape has some bends and curves in it. My wife often says she bought a bottle because “the bottle was cool looking.” On most occasions, I agree with my wife’s assessment. I have seen some bottles in the liquor store that mimicked perfume bottles. It is compelling to witness the many physical attributes a bottle will assume by their makers in order to stand out in a diverse and broad crowd. Imagine you are having a fashion show. Wouldn’t a bottle of wine mimicking a perfume bottle fit nicely with your show’s goals and strengthen its presentation value?
- While cooking, I like to have a bottle present. Sometimes I put a little wine in the food too! Cooking with wine is akin to kayaking with both paddles. Sure, I can row with one oar but I prefer both paddles. The same goes for wine in the kitchen. But what kind of wine? For meats, reds are the standard, yes. Wines that display hues of purple are for me. The taste must be bold, sharp and long on the finish. Aromas vault me into another world as if transported to the region in which the wine grape was harvested. The wine invokes immediate thoughts of fertile hills, sunshine, rocky plains and the proximity of small villages to the source.
- Lately I have been collecting corks and caps for an as-yet defined project. During my collecting, I have gathered corks from a specific vintner / winemaker that provides a history connected to its brand. I believe the whole idea of using corks, in addition to the vintners stamp being visible would include the addition of snippets of the regions history. While such an endeavour may result in an expensive proposition, the point is the message is delivered at the same time the bottle is opened. Labels provide some kind of history and raison d’être too. I am sure smarter people could come up with marketing ideas for more value added uses of corks.
The producer hat
The world is full of inspired wine makers and innovative vintners, who collectively bring forth their wares in an effort to create a product that is reflective of their passion and commitment to the business. From both small to large wineries, the availability of diverse wines from known and emerging geographic locations bring choice, value and a goldmine of wines from which consumers like you and me can buy.
If a producer of a wine were to sit down with me and ask me questions about their wine, where would they start? For me, it becomes more of how the wine tastes, how it paired with my Angus steak or how it smelled. As a producer, I would want to know if I connected with the wine.
- Did the wine conjure up good thoughts? If so, what thoughts? More importantly, if not, why not?
- Would this be a wine to take to my next event, like a dinner out to a BYOB restaurant or the beach (law permitting)?
- What made me buy the wine in the first place? Did a friend recommend the wine to me? Did I see a great commercial that influenced my decision to hop out of my chair and drive to the liquor store?
- Did I buy the wine to get drunk through binge gulping or to develop a pleasant buzz via the slow, savoury route?
- Does this wine leave me talking to friends about it, blogging its merits or writing about it in some other way?
I ask these questions from a producer standpoint because I am interested in knowing what the intangible elements are to why people consume a wine beyond just labelling and perhaps the better use of literature on corks. The point is not to ask uncomfortable questions but to pose queries in such a way that people would open up about their wine consumption freely and openly. In the end it is about finding out patterns and causes that feeds the wine making, delivery and marketing processes.
Overall, it’s about rooting out the true motivations in people as to why they plunk down hard-earned cash to participate in the value proposition offered by wineries dotting Mother natures verdant and beautiful landscape.