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Wine experts and wine apps

May 22, 2017 Tags: 0 comments
I have just finished reading Robert Joseph’s article on the "death of wine experts" and it made me writing this post. We live in an era where we share and rate plenty online, from our dentist to the couriers we got the wine from, not just the wines, we live in a time where we all want to share, we all love feeling part of the virtual community, not least because is very easy and everyone with a device and access to internet can feel part of something, and because of this human need, more and more apps or websites will make their appearance, in all sectors and industries.

Has the appearance of these apps or websites made their industry experts disappearing? Yes some of them have gone and moved to a different industry, but some are still there, what this trend has really done was to make the real experts smarter, made them finding opportunities, it actually created new markets for them. Has Tripadvisor made all other restaurant guides disappear? No, it made them different, it made them changing their approach, their way of communicating, new online guides are appearing.

Yes, and owning a restaurant I can certainly confirm that, being number one on Tripadvisor brings more customers than possibly any other guide, however, are these the diners I want? I want diners that know what they are coming for, be aware of the establishment I am, and not just because I am number 1 of Tripadvisor, if they only come because I am number 1 they are possibly not going to like what they see, and as soon as I slip to number 10, I lose them and all the others. Not only, very rarely I agree with Tripadvisor ratings. If I was a winery, I would not want to sell a single wine or only a great vintage because Vivino users love it, I want to sell my wines every year and every vintage, and with such an amount of wines and reviews being posted, it is easy to get sucked down.

The wine industry is very fragmented, due to the fact that there are an endless number of wines being produced, therefore the guides are limited, sometime to single countries, only in Italy the main ones are 6, so if someone is looking for a French wine in Italy, none of those guide will be useful. And this is the same for France, Spain and any other country, these guides have now become the expert’s guide, because they tell the experts what is happening in the country in terms of producers and wines, and Vivino and all other apps or website are capitalising on this fragmentation and the wanting to be social, the wanting to be part of the bigger community, that wine users like any other, have.

The other advantage that could be easily become the self destruction bottom, is the number of wines being reviewed daily that is much bigger than what a person or a small group could do. Users check Tripadvisor when going on holiday or out for dinner and normally limit the choice to 3 or 4 options before making the choice and read a few of the reviews to get a feeling if the other reviewers have a similar profile to them, and when using Tripadvisor users are spending a decent amount of money and few hours or days of their life, is it worth doing it for a £10 bottle of wine? Maybe for a £100 yes, so whether this model will be sustainable in the long term is still a question mark.

Tripadvisor business model is very different from Vivino, we go to the hotel, the wine has to come to us and not all wines are available everywhere, there are logistic issues, taxes, availability, at the moment their stream of revenue are advertising and offering space to retailers to advertise their wines. Is that going to be enough to cover their cost?

However, I do not believe that these apps or websites will be the death of the experts, the experts will still be there, I do believe some of them will go and would have gone anyway, later than sooner, nonetheless, the smarter ones will remain, changing the way they communicate, their approach to wine and consumers, reinventing themselves. When the insurance sites comparison started to appear, many declared the death of the insurance broker and companies were queuing to be included in the website, several years later, brokers are still selling insurances and filling the comparison websites and insurance companies are getting out of them.

The problem with only 25 experts being able to making a living out of their profession is that the internet has created plenty more experts, wine is much more accessible and available than it used to be, it has created niches, and if I was a winery before approaching a direct line to potential buyers I will firstly look at whether these buyers can get hold of my wines and then who else is using the same system but until them, I will work in getting my wines in as many markets as possible with the right partners without worrying too much about Vivino.
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