Wine industry finds untapped opportunity in mobile conversation


The Crushed app

Wine brands and retailers are finally taking advantage of mobile and social to market themselves in a cheap and efficient way.

Mobile applications such as Drync and Crushed provide opportunities for wine brands and wineries to promote themselves within a mobile and social context, creating a conversation with consumers. Wine brands tend to be slow to adopt newer technology, but they are finally beginning to realize the potential in mobile social.

The first point which is so obvious is that wine is social, so people like to talk about it, said Brad Rosen, founder/CEO of Drync, Boston. The really interesting thing I think is in an industry thats been so highly regulated since prohibition and where brands have to spend a lot of money to get on the shelf or in a restaurant there are so many brands that people never hear of, so I think social is an amazing way to give wineries like that reach at a really low cost and in doing so thats a mechanism that people remember.

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When you get a recommendation from a friend it reinforces the brand in a way that television commercials cannot, he said. Theres just a huge fragmentation problem in this industry, so any way of creating a trusted way of reinforcing a brand with consumers is going to be good. The thing is, doing it the traditional way is just so unbelievably expensive, and doing it the social way can be a lot more powerful and cheaper.

The other piece of that is the mobile side, the mobile social side. Wine is experiential in nature. The moment that you drink the wine is the most opportune moment to build that brand and reinforce it.

Drink up
Apps such as Drync, Hello Vino and Crushed are helping wine brands realize the potential of mobile and social.

Drync lets consumers take a picture of a label on a bottle of wine to share on social media or purchase the wine directly. It enables brands to bridge the gap between the physical and virtual world and enable consumers to instantly order an obscure bottle of wine they enjoyed at a restaurant.

The app recently partnered with Food Wine magazine to promote its app and wine sales (see story).

According to Mr. Rosen, the program created a huge lift for the brands involved. Just three weeks into the program the brands saw sales double.

Mr. Rosen believes that consumers are used to a new reality of instant gratification, one that forces wine brands to rise to the cause and enable such immediacy.

Amazon has trained us to be super impulsive about our buying, he said. We see something, we purchase it. Were a generation of impulsive buyers.

A promotion for Drync

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Crushed, which just launched a week ago, works on a similar premise as Drync minus the commerce capabilities. The app focuses on the social aspect and letting consumers share wines with their friends and family.

Carla McKay, CEO/Founder of Crushed, San Francisco, created the app after realizing that there was a huge lack of innovation in the wine industry.

Two years ago, as a wine professional and consumer, I was just really frustrated with the lack of innovation in the wine technology space, specifically the wine app space, she said. I felt that there were no apps that met my needs. I want to be able to track, search and share with my friends all the great wine Im drinking.

While the homepage of Crushed lets consumers post about any brands they enjoy, a section called Club promotes a number of unique wine brands that the Crushed team deemed appropriate for its users. The wines that appear on Crushed reach an engaged audience, one that is interested in the industry and more likely to actually make a purchase.

Ms. McKay believes that the wine industry as a whole is behind other verticals and is in dire need of innovation.

What Im hopeful for is that Crushed can be a true change agent for an industry that is really lagging behind in embracing the new generation, the current demographic of wine drinkers that they should be concerned about, she said. Were hopeful that Crushed can be that change agent that the wine industry needs to take itself to the next level as other industries already have. The wine industry on a whole is probably a couple years behind their competing industries.

Social sharing with Crushed

Find it
Beyond creating dialogue and online purchasing, mobile social can also help wine brands direct consumers to bricks-and-mortar locations that sell their wine.

Constellation Brands recently launched a program on the Hello Vino platform to direct consumers to nearby stores and restaurants. The wine company leveraged Hello Vinos Product Locator API to bridge the gap between mobile and the real world.

By pursuing native advertising opportunities within a wine recommendations application such as Hello Vino, we are able to reach wine consumers when they are making their purchase decisions, said Ed Lemay, senior vice president of marketing services at Constellation Brands, Victor, NY.

This allows us to introduce our products to new consumers in context, when they are more receptive to learning about Constellations brands, he said. These highly targeted advertising placements are focused on converting sales, and theyve proven to be a valuable component of our brand marketing mix.

This is only one of the many ways in which Constellation Brands has decided to leverage mobile social, realizing the immense potential in the channels.

Increasingly consumers are turning to their mobile devices for information that influences their purchase decisions, Mr. Lemay said. In fact wine consumers spend almost two hours each day accessing the Internet on their mobile devices.

In the wine industry where consumers are often overwhelmed by the number of product choices in a store or restaurant, mobile marketing is an effective means for us to interact with wine consumers in their time of need, he said.

Final Take
Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York


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