The wine world is buzzing about the new offering from Champagne Krug. The Clos d’Ambonnay is a blanc de noirs made entirely from Pinot Noir and sourced from a single vineyard in the grand-cru-rated village of Ambonnay. The new wine, Clos d’Ambonnay 1995 is estimated to sell for $3,000 to $3,300 per bottle (a fact which has led to some outcry among wine bloggers).
The 1995 is the first vintage to be released and won’t come out in the States until next spring. Crazed Champagne fans may end paying even more than the exorbitant price listed above since there are only 250 cases were made.
As the top-tier search engine have ramped up their efforts in the field of vertical search, the only vertical search markets that are worth entering into are niches within greater verticals. Well, it seems that the creators of WineSearcher have set their sights on precisely such a search vertical. They’re pursuing the wine niche within the larger vertical of shopping. This is a niche characterized by a particularly passionate user-base and, therefore, represents a potential lucrative advertising/affiliate-marketing opportunity. However, WineSearcher could stand to learn a thing or two about revenue models from its top-tier counterparts. As press release explains:
Auckland, New Zealand (PRWEB) October 12, 2007 — Journalists, wine merchants, wine judges and connoisseurs attended the official New Zealand launch of the world’s most used wine search engine www.wine-searcher.com in Auckland, New Zealand today (October 10).
The wine market consists of over 80,000 labels world-wide, most with additional vintage variation, and no one wine merchant is able to stock all wines, not even just the wines that are available within a single country. [..] To alleviate this problem, the founder designed and developed a wine search engine that is simple to use, locates the wine with staggering speed and returns quality information and price from anywhere in the world.
Wine-Searcher’s database of over 8500 wine stores’ price lists and 2.6 million offers allows instant access to the picture now, and the history of preceding four years. Using software, Wine-Searcher collects most price lists automatically so the entire database is updated twice a week and a mystery shopper is used to ensure that the wine merchants’ lists are accurate. The site also provides other useful wine information and services, and a directory of all the wine regions and appellations of the world.
[...] Wine-Searcher attracts half a million visitors each month; over 55 million pageviews per year. [...]
The site can be used by anyone for free, and also lists wine merchants for no charge. Income is gained from people paying a small yearly subscription for more in depth search results, and from wine stores choosing to highlight their listings to gain increased sales. Income is also generated from banner advertising on the site. The company has 10,000 subscribers and around 300 sponsors. Turnover has been increasing 50% every year and this year (2007) is expected to reach $NZD 2 million.
If there’s anything that Google’s product strategy has taught us, it’s that users don’t want to pay for functionality. Consequently, WineSearcher might benefit from reconsidering aspects of its advanced search model.
First off, as simple as a solution as having premium or advanced memberships or subscriptions are, it’s also archaic. Too many online service providers have found a way to offer content and functionality that users are becoming increasing suspicious of paid memberships and, therefore, considerably less likely to use them.
Granted, truly passionate vinophiles are a relatively small user-base that it’s difficult to imagine how another vertical search entrepreneur would think that there’s sufficient left-over demand to warrant entering the wine-search market. Furthermore, wine-lovers also tend to belong to higher income demographics and are, therefore, more likely to be willing to invest in such a membership if the product truly is useful.
However, with wine wikis like Vinismo emerging on the market, vinophiles are in more and more of a position to reap the benefits of user-generated-content (watch a video on Vinismo here). Consequently, WineSearcher needs to ask itself whether free portals such as Vinismo represent an alternative to their paid-membership service and, therefore, a potential competitor.
Mind you, one thing that Wikipedia and Google have demonstrated its that wikis and search engines make perfect bedfellows. In terms of offering users a more reliable base of
user taster feedback, they might consider trying to establish a partnership with Vinismo, or even outright indexing their content.
However, establishing some form of symbiotic relationship could help better secure its future as a niche vertical search engine. Top-tier search engines have been pushing into the field of vetical search so aggressively that second-tier players have been left to either partner with them, or with each other.
Just yesterday, Google laid more of a claim to the future of local search when the Canadian Yellow Pages announced a partnership with Google whereby they would become the major reseller of Adwords in Canada. Shopping search engines were also dealt a blow yesterday when Microsofts seriously ramped up its Live Product search. Even verticals that have not yet entered the mainstream but promise to play a part of the future of search are also being reeled in by online media giants. For example, Facebook has become the only viable people search platform because it has more reliable information on its users and, therefore, doesn’t have to worry about being bogged down by complex algorithms that can distinguish between two people with the same name. Indeed, when Facebook made its users’ profiles searchable other major people search engines had to find a niche within the vertical, and fall back on focusing on business-related people search only.
So it seems that a niche within any given vertical is the place where search entrepreneurs can catch most easily a break. Consequently, it seems that Wine Searcher is on the right track. Whether they’re moving at the right pace or even in the right directions, however, only time will tell.
The same original Label Saver but now conveniently sold in sets of ten so you can decide exactly how many you want. These wine label savers are perfect for your wine or beer collection. Quickly and easily remove most wine or beer labels by actually splitting then separating the front-printed surface from the adhesive back. You’re left with a laminated memento to save in your Wine Cellar Album.
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Mike Paul is a wine marketer par excellence. Unusual in the wine industry, as most of the wine companies I know are production driven rather than marketing focused. So when he speaks people listen.
According to Mike Paul, Australia’s UK wine market is overdue for review: “Australia needs to become a bit more edgy… It needs an injection of personality, of irrationality”.
Paul said that for Australian producers to compete with the higher perceived value of old world wines they have “to accept that wine is an emotional not a rational purchase” and “be aware of the power of seduction”.
Paul further notes that:
“The idea that producers may have business goals which are not fundamentally about the need to hit financial or growth targets is rather appealing. It suggests one has perhaps arrived at a higher form of existence. But in terms of the cut and thrust of day-to-day business if one is competing with people who don’t need to make the same return on investment as you do - it’s hardly a level playing field”
“The thing about new world wines is that they all compete with each other, whilst in Europe wines compete within their own regions - a simplification to be sure but one of the key dynamics of the wine industry is contained in that comment”
“You need to use new technology if you are not already doing so. The internet is the perfect vehicle for communicating wine to consumers. Not only does it’s flexibility allow consumers to take in as much information about wine as they choose, but it allows you to communicate the personality of your brand to a carefully targetted sudience and secure feedback which helps hone your proposition. It’s also of course a route to market in it’s own right”
In terms of the UK wine market Australia had “first mover advantage”. The timing was perfect, the UK consumer was ready and willing to try alternatives, quality superb and the value for money proposition excellent. This has left other Southern Hemisphere countries, including South Africa , playing “catch-up”.
So how do other countries like South Africa “catch-up”? According to Joel Cawley it’s about increasing opportunities to create differentiated value. It’s just a matter of thinking about value creation differently. “One of the things you can get confused about in doing strategy,” says Cawley, “is losing sight of where real value comes from. If you are constantly creating new value then you have opportunities to harvest that value.”
With that promise comes a warning. “At some point you may stop creating new value,” says Cawley, “and when you do, if you continue to harvest, then at some point you’re no longer earning the harvest and, in fact, you may not even be doing yourself much good, because you’re no longer off creating new value; you’re stuck in a rut.” (Quoted in Wikinomics, by Don Tapscott & Anthony D. Williams)
Download the full lecture: http://www.winepressclub.com.au/pastEvents.cfm
By Mike Carter.
With its association to an affluent, sophisticated lifestyle, wine can make a good accompaniment when marketing to an affluent audience. However, I am not talking here about ordering expensive wine at a client dinner. Wine can be used more creatively and productively to connect to this target audience.
For example, wine proved to be a powerful marketing element for a startup magazine targeting an audience that is personally affluent and controls an enormous amount of money.
BuySide magazine is a publication for institutional investors and money managers. When it was first conceived, it had to overcome what seemed to be a big drawback. Its founder, Gordon Holmes, lived in Sonoma, California, and insisted that the magazine be based near his home, far away from both the financial and media centers in New York.
In discussions with Holmes, I discovered that Holmes insistence on basing his operations in Sonoma was not just a whim or a wish to have a short commute to work. It turns out that five generations of his family had been involved in California agriculture and he was passionate about California wine and wine-growing. I made a decision to turn BuySides remoteness from financial and media centers of action into a positive. His location in California’s wine country would become part of the magazines positioning.
The first step was to create a private label BuySide Wine. In a deal with local wineries, we were able to source a sufficient amount of BuySide Merlot and Chardonnay. A special wine bottle label was designed to reflect the unique story of this boutique wine. Next, a direct mail campaign was developed using wine as a theme and Buyside wine as a premium. The campaign was aimed at advertisers and companies that wanted to reach the magazines audience of institutional investors.
The chief element of the direct mail campaign was a brochure. The reader was immediately confronted with a stark, bold headline on the front of the brochure:
“WHERE DO YOU GO TO TALK TO INVESTORS WITH $TRILLIONS TO INVEST?”
When the brochure was opened, the inside headline provided the answer:
“TO THE WINE COUNTRY”
On the left side of the inside page, we developed a fanciful photo that conveyed the message we wanted: In the photo, Holmes was wearing a suit and holding a cellphone, sitting at a desk which had a computer on top of it, in the middle of a winery. Next to the desk was a street sign that said Wall Street. The other side of the page told the story of Buyside and how it reached this affluent, influential audience of institutional investors. The copy also directed readers to an offer in the back. As part of the offer, companies that responded to the mailing would receive a free bottle of BuySide winewhite or red.
The mailing and promotion powered the magazine to success far ahead of schedule. But wine proved to be more than a launching pad in a direct mail campaign. It became part of the magazines positioning, separating it from the competition. The wine angle proved powerful for years to come. At money management conferences, where wine was given out at BuySides booth, people would come into the conference and ask Where are the wine guys? Everyone knew what they meant.
While developing a private label wine may not be for everyone, there are other ways to use wine creatively in affluent marketing. Wine tastings, and food and wine get-togethers have been used successfully by professionals seeking to market their services to an affluent audience. But like wine itself, it takes taste and sophistication to make it work.
By Leon Altman. Leon is the founder of InvestingIN.com