Awards and citations:

1997: Le Prix du Champagne Lanson Noble Cuvée Award for investigations into Champagne for the Millennium investment scams

2001: Le Prix Champagne Lanson Ivory Award for

2011: Vindic d'Or MMXI – 'Meilleur blog anti-1855'

2011: Robert M. Parker, Jnr: ‘This blogger...’:

2012: Born Digital Wine Awards: No Pay No Jay – best investigative wine story

2012: International Wine Challenge – Personality of the Year Award

Thursday, 1 March 2012

How important is wine on the internet for the French?

La Passion du Vin forum: thread on delay by 1855 in delivering primeurs now running to 121 pages!
Of those who buy on-line the proportion buying from an on-line merchant has dropped from 40% to 30% since 2010.
Just a coincidence?

Baromètre SOWINE/SSI 2012

'L’influence des nouvelles technologies sur le comportement des consommateurs de vin en France'

This study into the behaviour of French wine consumers with regard to the influence of new technology was published in in February. The study by SOWINE looked at a number of aspects including the sources of information used, what role does the social media play in buying wine and how important are mobile phones when buying.

A sample of 1200 French people aged between 18 and 65 were surveyed with the questioning carried out on-line between 1st and 6th February 2012. 62% of those surveyed considered that they knew little about wine, 39.9% as knowledgeable amateurs and only 1.5% as experts/connoisseurs. 65.5% thought it necessary to have at least a minimum of wine knowledge to appreciate it. 80% thought it important to look for information before buying. 33% of those surveyed drink wine at least several times a week, and 14% buy wine several times during a week. In contrast 15% don’t drink wine and 13% don’t buy.

20% of those surveyed use the internet – producers’ sites, blogs, forums and specialist sites – as a source of wine information. This compares to 14% in 2010 and 16% in 2011. The internet is the fourth most popular information source preceded by advice from family and friends (65%), recommendations from a wine merchant (caviste) and advice from sommeliers and waiting staff in restaurants (22%). 15% cited wine fairs, while the print media are well down – 8% for specialist guides (Hachette, Gault et Millau) and 5% each for both general and specialist magazines.

It is probably not a surprise that amongst those who drink or buy wine regularly the importance of the internet rises: 32% for regular buyers and 28% for regular drinkers. For both categories the internet is the third rather than the fourth most important source of information.

The number visiting blogs and forums of all subjects has increased significantly. In 2010 a similar survey found that 28.7% visited blogs, 29.67 in 2011 but jumping sharply to 41.1% in 2012. Forums have seen a similar increase from 29.2% in 2010, rising to 32.3% in 2011 and now hitting 40.3%.

Gastronomie with 43% is the most popular subject followed by leisure (35.7%), music (35.7%), cinema/theatre (34.7%), hi-tech (32.9%, travel (31.4%) and politics/economics (29%). Wine is down in 12th place with 23.5% but not far below sport on 26.4%. Subjects on forums follow a similar pattern with gastronomie leading on 34.1%, while wine is 10th at 19%.

Although 62% of the respondents said that it was essential for wine producers to have an internet site, only 18% actually visit them. This rises to 34% for regular wine drinkers and nearly 39% for regular buyers. The most important information that should be on a producer’s site is their range of wines (77.9%) followed by details on the terroir and the vineyard (74.7%). The least important is information about the producer and their family (48.8%).

It is most important that a producers site offers the opportunity to have a discussion with visitors to the site (68.2%). This is closely followed by videos (60.4%), the quality of photos (60.4%) and the possibility of signing up for a newsletter (53.9%). Interestingly ease of navigation rates only 27.6%.

Specialist sites are still little used: only 1.70% are members of a site that shares tasting notes – 4.3% for regular drinkers and 7.0% for regular buyers. Sites that help you to organize your cellar attract 2.8% – 6.6% of regular drinkers and 10.5% of regular buyers. Not surprisingly the most popular are price comparison sites which attract 14% overall rising to 23.6% for regular drinkers and 29.2% for regular buyers.

Despite the rising use of the internet only 12% actually buy wine over the net and they are mainly urban men over 36. Those who do buy on line mainly buy direct from producers (57.3%), followed by private sale sites such as 1jour1vin and vente-privee (50.3%), cavistes (merchants) at 30% and supermarkets at only 15.4%.

Interesting to see the evolution over the past two years with sales through on-line merchants dropping from 40% in 2010 to 30% now. It would be very interesting to know how much this has been due to 1855’s failure to deliver to a significant number of its customers. In contrast private sales have increased over the same period from 40% to 50%, while auction sales have dropped from 17% to 10%. Supermarket sales are gradually increasing from 11% to 15%.

The French are much more likely to use Facebook than Twitter: 68.8% to 9.8%. In 2010 usage of Facebook was 55.2% in 2010 rising to 60.3% the following year while Twitter climbed from 3.7% in 2010 to 6.3% the following year.

Membership of social media dedicated to wine remains low – 1.9% with regular drinkers at 5.30% and regular buyers at 7%. Membership of food sites is a little but not greatly higher.

Unsurprisingly the number of smartphones in use is growing rapidly: from 15.4% in 2010 to 43.7% now. 50% of smartphone owners use an application daily and 25% at least once a week. 18% have a wine or food application, which rises to 26% for regular drinkers and 34% for regular buyers. The two most important functions for a wine app is to give advice on choosing when in the store and information (both 54%) with food and wine matching just behind on 53%. Despite the relatively low sales of wine via the internet 42% of regular buyers want the possibility to buy wine using their mobile.

Among the study’s conclusions is that access to information at the moment of buying or while drinking wine is becoming more and more important both through wine apps on smartphones and tablets but also QR-Codes. To be successful information on the internet needs to be high quality, credible and dynamic.

New technologies are making it easier to get access to wine knowledge and making it more democratic through increasing the number of people who can write about it and express an opinion. They encourage an exchange of information and discussion.


SOWINE said...

Thanks for this editorial Jim!

SOWINE said...

Thanks Jim!

Jim Budd said...

SOWINE – thanks some interesting figures. I may well post some comments after I've had time to reflect on the results of your survey. Jim