The internet is becoming an increasingly important tool for teaching German consumers about wine
First thing’s first: we should make a nod towards this week’s other network news story, in which Graham notes that the internet suffers significant limitations when it comes to wine. The internet is unable to provide the sensory and social experience that many consumers are looking for when they engage with wine; despite this, it now forms a significant part of the German consumers’ involvement with the product.
According to Wine Intelligence’s Germany Internet and Social Media 2015 report (to be published next week), of 28.6 million German regular wine drinkers, 15.2 million of them use the internet to engage with wine. The internet is the 6th most important wine buying channel in Germany, and has increased in importance by 4% since 2011, standing well above department stores and duty free but below traditional channels such as specialist wine shops and supermarkets. These consumers are likely to be young, with a higher income and a higher level of education.
The other side of the internet wine world is educational; 35% of regular wine drinkers use the internet to find information about wine. The leading website is Chef Koch, a foodie website used by 12.4 million unique users, providing a portal to recipes uploaded by users as well as an online community. In January 2015 there were 7,030 discussions about wine in the site’s forum, on subjects ranging from sulfurization in wine to recommendations on food matching. Once again, the internet demonstrates its ability to unite like-minded people and create a strong and active community.
These figures seem to suggest that while the internet is not taking over the German wine market and is nowhere near replacing traditional wine-selling channels, it is providing a useful alternative for people with busy schedules, for those living in remote areas, and for those who want to go beyond what is stocked in their local stores. It is also another source of useful information about wine, improving people’s knowledge and therefore increasing their interest and expertise. A better informed and connected market can only be a good thing.
Despite the internet’s limitations, it is clear that it is increasingly becoming a vital tool in both the education and purchase of wine. The rise in people using the internet to research wine also demonstrates increasing interest in the product, and illustrates one of the best features of the ‘net – the ability for people to access information. This can only bode well for the wine business.