Choosing a bottle of wine can be fraught with indecision and uncertainty. Firstly, there’s the overload of terminology, descriptions and ‘wine speak’ contained on the label, often in a foreign language, and seemingly only understood by the select few learned connoisseurs.
Then there are other issues. Will it match the food? Will my guests enjoy it? Does it represent good value for money? And – most importantly – will it actually be any good? With such a minefield of information and decisions to wade through, it is no surprise consumers look for advice and recommendations.
But who do they trust the most? Looking at five recommendation sources (friends and family, shop staff, wine critics, guide books and medals and awards) across 17 Wine Intelligence research markets, it is clear that wine consumers the world over trust the opinions of those they know more than the views of the experts. Indeed friends or family score highest across all 17 markets.
Although the importance and influence of professional recommendations should not be understated, it can be said that the strongest ambassadors for a wine brand are the loyal customers and their word-of-mouth recommendations. Engaging with these consumers would be a cost-effective and potential lucrative way of expanding a wine brand’s reach.
However, even though friends and family rate highest in all markets, this does not mean that consumers in every country have the same approach to recommendations. Delving deeper, we can see that regional variations occur.
It is in established markets (the UK, USA, Australia, Germany, etc.) where trust in friends and family recommendation dominates. But in emerging markets, where wine is not as commonplace and involvement and knowledge tends to be lower amongst consumers, professional recommendations from critics and shop staff become much more important.
Particular examples of this include medals and awards in Chile, wine critics in South Korea and guide books in Mexico, Brazil and China. Shop staff recommendations tend to be stronger in markets dominated by retail monopolies, with this being most evident in Norway (Vinmonopolet) and Finland (Alko).
For more information, please contact a member of the Wine Intelligence team.