Like most recommendations, word-of-mouth is still king. While most of us rely on critics for advice before making a purchase, the people we trust most are friends and people who are like us. With the advent of technology, the new word-of-mouth is web logs or blogs.

Gary Vayerchuk, Director of Operations at, spoke last week at the Wine Industry Technology Symposium (WITS) saying that the industry has followed too long a handful of critics whose opinion means nothing to the average wine drinker. Most people give more weight to other consumer’s opinions than critics any way. Take movies for example, critics may help guide movie goers initially, but its word-of-mouth that makes it a blockbuster or even a bomb.

According to Max Kalehoff, Vice President of Marketing for Buzzmetrics, 67% of consumers relied on word-of-mouth recommendations when making a purchase three decades ago; today that number has risen to 92%. He also said that 73% of people who shop online leave behind comments to share their experiences with other consumers. While everyone secretly hates a critic, deep down everyone secretly wants to be one.

Wineries are not immune to consumer feedback. In fact, 5 of the top 10 references to Santa Rosa’s Kendall Jackson wines on Google are consumer driven, according to Kalehoff. Instead of fearing consumer feedback and opinions, wineries should embrace them. Those who don’t embrace this new form of word-of-mouth (blogs) and engage customers with more familiar language will find themselves left in the cellar.

One great wine community is

By Larry Cole.


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