Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Why Does the Beverage Industry Seem to “Get” Social Marketing? Because It Always Has.

It makes sense.  Wine and food have always been about people sharing an activity with other people.  Wine and food is best experienced with friends.  Even when you’re with people you don’t know, wine and food seems to spark the conversation, lower the firewalls, provide the commonality for a shared experience that, many times, leads to discussion and friendships.

Families have been using the dinner table to re-connect with each other forever.  Sometimes, the supper at the dinner table is the only place or time we get to see the rest of our family.  A home base in our busy lives of work, school, and life.  The dining table was the original social network.

Friends and coworkers get together after work or on the weekends for a drink, time to relax, blow off steam, and catch up.  A glass of wine or beer lifted with friends makes up for all of those thankless interactions we all have during our day.  Whether going out or staying in, it allows us to catch up with our friends and find out how each other are doing.

Local pubs and watering holes were the original Facebook.  A place to reconnect with old friends, make new friends, share what was going on, laugh.  Not much different that the online version, only now your friends can be separated by more distances.  It feels comfortable surrounded by friend.  The the pub in Cheers, every knows your name.

I can imagine Norm from Cheers on Chat.  As soon as he logs on, all of his buddies sending him an IM at the same time that just say “NORM!”  Woody would IM him saying “What’s up Mr. Peterson?” and Norm would respond back with a witty one liner.  Of course, Cliff Clavin would be constantly sending out 140 character tweets of “Little Known Facts”, all taken from Wikipedia (Today’s Guinness Book).

The Beer and Wine community have always depended on relationships as their bread and butter.  Beer comes packaged to share will 5 friends.  A bottle of wine is the perfect size for 4 people; at least to start.  No one wants to drink alone, they want to do it with friends.  And, sharing it with friends builds memories.  Memories are what makes life enjoyable.  Online communities mimic this community.

There might be other factors that has helped the beverage industry in general, and the wine industry in particular to click with the technology based social media.  The proximity of California’s wine country to Silicon Valley has permitted a large cross pollination of resources and people to flow back and forth between high tech, net savvy people and wineries.  It is obvious that the social media connected wineries are heavily dominated by those close ties to Silicon Valley.  Napa and Sonoma is very well represented.

Another contributing factor is probably the economy.  The cost of entry to social networking is very low.  Although, to be successful, a business needs to invest quite a bit of time, fostering relationships and maintaining their online presence.  That is a hidden cost of Social Networking.  Where a business, in the past, may have taken out an add, or bought some airtime, Social Networking requires a social commitment.  These are not just customers, they are friends, followers and buddies.

Welcome to the world of Hospitality 2.0.

No comments: