Off-trade

Get to know your Virtual Customer

This year’s NOffLA seminar on ‘The 21st Century Customer’ saw Martin G Moloney of Dublin City University point out some of the differences between traditional customers and their social media-savvy online counterparts today.

Where the traditional customer engages with the off-licensee, the 21st Century Customer engages online with the vineyard, the winemaker, their own friends and even strangers on facebook, twitter, You Tube and Pinterest.

In his presentation The Virtual Customer he pointed out that such customers visit the virtual vineyard via a QR code (providing a ‘real-world’ object with a digital signpost).

Twitter can also provide the virtual customer with advice where traditionally it would have been the retailer who provided this.
“Perhaps the most basic and obvious use of twitter to wine drinkers is to get wine recommendations,” he explained, “Are you looking for a wine that works well with your favorite dish? Then ask in twitter. Did you purchase a wine that looks really interesting but have no idea what sort of meal to eat with it? Then ask on twitter. Your requests for wine and food recommendation will be going out to a huge community and chances are that there are a few people out there with just the information you need.

“You can, of course, ask more complex and interesting questions about wine as well — so long as you can fit your question into just 140 characters. You can ask who makes a better French Riesling, Helfric or Hugel? You can ask which is likely to be a better Chardonnay: one from France or one from California? “You can even ask people about their best wine experiences so you can benefit from their stories.”

Boston-based Drync, the ‘Shazam for wine’ app, which enables people to order bottles while they drink, announced recently that it had raised $900,000 in angel funding to expand fulfilment and marketing and further develop the product.
Using the iPhone’s scanning recognition, the app can identify and provide follow-up information on the bottle thereby allowing you to get better-acquainted with your personal palate.

The image technology can also pick up on a restaurant’s wine list or tasting menu to help you figure out which wine you’re drinking. When you do find the wine of your dreams on Drync and are ready to buy up, the app delivers your bottles of wine straight to your doorstep. Order six or more bottles and get them delivered free-of-charge.

Other retail advantages of social marketing and the virtual customer mentioned by Martin included the widespread potential for generating more PR for products and outlets. Where the traditional customer tells a few friends, the virtual customer has the potential to tell thousands…

Social media’s advantage and disadvantage lies in the fact that bad news or good news travels fast.
With a bad experience the traditional consumer tells 17 others where the social media consumer tells 24 others, explained Martin, quoting American Express research from May 2012.
With a good experience the traditional consumer tells 15 others and the social media consumer tells 42 others.

“Nature abhors a vacuum,” he concluded, “And so does social media! You have to occupy that space – or someone else will.”

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