Wine marketing

Who are the biggest wine influencers in China?

The Chufei Churan twins Yoni and Joyce, two Chinese internet celebrities, are using their fanbase to introduce Australian products to China.

The Chufei Churan twins Yoni and Joyce, two Chinese internet celebrities, are using their fanbase to introduce Australian products to China.

Wine enthusiasts in China do not believe in the power of mass media but rely on their peers and social media influencers for wine information and recommendations. And guess what, all information is accessed by smartphone on popular social media platforms.

With the world’s highest number of smartphones and mobile internet users, social media platforms such as WeChat, Sina Weibo, livestream video site Douyin, and Zhihu, a Q & A forum, are powerful communication tools for Wine Influencers to freely share wine wisdom and opinion without the usual constraints of traditional media.

China’s famous actors, singers and TV personalities, as well as web celebrities and bloggers make the KOLs or Key opinion leaders. This group’s clout can be felt in China’s massive online retail market, especially in fashion, cosmetics and luxury goods. Based on the number of clicks per post, they command high commissions as payment for their endorsements:

Interestingly, KOL has spawned an industry of agents who train and groom influencers in exchange for a share of their endorsement proceeds. However, KOLs influence is gradually waning as savvy consumers realise their heroes are paid to endorse products.

Hong Kong-based consultant Sarah Heller MW says, China’s online wine community is truly clued-up on KOLs. However, Micro influencers such as bloggers and live-stream video stars carry more weight because they offer genuine opinions from trusted personalities. Heller at Vinexpo Hong Kong 2018 said that Millennial consumers go by their peers’ experiences than blindly follow a KOL.

Where traditional media is plagued by censorship, China’s social media stars are breaking down barriers and creating communities of wine lovers.

Kent Tsang

Seamlessly playing different roles of journalist, judge and marketer, Kent Tsang is editor-in-chief of The Black Wine Guide, the brainchild of wine critic and sommelier Jean-Marc Nolant.

In the grand tradition of Bettane+Desseauve’s Guide de Vins and La Revue du Vin de France, Kent Tsang publishes wine reviews and ratings of high-end wines for the luxury market which has been published in Mandarin since 2011. To promote their tasting events, Tsang’s team harnessed the power of social media, gaining 130,000 followers (organic) in just three days after it screened videos on Douyin, also known as TikTok, a platform that hosts entertaining, eye-catching user-generated photos and livestream videos.

Chufei Churan Twins

When it comes to promoting wine as a lifestyle, nobody can do it better than Web celebrities ‘Chufei Churan Twins’. Wine Australia invited them for a journey to visit Australia’s wineries and tourist areas, which will be livestreamed to millions of followers, mainly females on Tmall, Alibaba’s retail platform. The social media icons by livestreaming their overseas holidays, high-end fashion and fine dining dinners are influencing young, upper middle-class Chinese women to discover the joys of buying wine online.

Wang Shenghan

Wang Shenghan a.k.a Drunken Mother Goose, a graduate of Brown University and Le Cordon Bleu is the founder of Lady Penguin, a social media channel and online wine retailer. Through Sina Weibo – a microblogging website, her candid wine review videos became popular with more than 430m monthly active users and she now has millions of fans and operates a successful wine club.

Wang’s growing popularity and influence is palpable in her attention-grabbing online Lady Penguin shows. The company has also branched into wine tastings and events, publishing wine guides, and operating a wine bar in Beijing’s Sanlitun district.


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The French Paradox is solved

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Lazy wine marketers must stop recommending wine for its health benefits. It’s shameful, immoral and bad for business. The moment millennials find out that the wine industry is spreading deceiving information they will turn their backs towards wine forever. It happened with tobacco, it’s happening to milk, and guess what – it will happen to wine.

Wine is an alcoholic beverage and alcohol is known for causing 7 different types of cancer. When we drink alcohol, it is turned in to a chemical called acetaldehyde, it causes cancer by damaging DNA. But how about resveratrol? According to Harvard Professor Dr. David Sinclair there is no science behind the claims that the resveratrol levels present in red wine have any health benefits.

– You would have to drink 100 glasses of wine per day to reach beneficial levels, said Sinclair on his TEDx talk on the effects of resveratrol.

Learning from the mistakes of Tobacco

– We don’t accept the idea that there are harmful agents in tobacco, said Philip Morris in 1964. Evidence of the statistical link between smoking and lung cancer had been piling up since the early fifties. In the face of mounting evidence against tobacco, the companies responded by creating doubt and controversy surrounding the health risks. If the tobacco companies would just have confirmed the heath concerns we would most likely have a more positive view of the tobacco industry today. Wine should learn from history and not repeat the mistakes of the past.

11,900 cases of cancer a year just in the UK

According to Cancer Research UK, alcohol consumption causes 11,900 cases of cancer a year in the UK. These are very few scientists, if any, that recommends wine consumption for heath reasons. Despite of this lazy wine marketers are continuing to push their toxic ideas about wines health properties. We have all seen it. On winery blogs, in social media content och in winemakers interviews. Information about the health benefits of red wine have been spread for decades. And it all started with something called The French Paradox.

Newsflash; the French Paradox is solved

The French Paradox refers to the notion that drinking wine may explain the relatively low rates of heart disease among the French, despite their fondness for cheese and fatty foods. But many experts argue that the paradox is now solved, that factors other than wine where accounting for the observation, such as lifestyle and dietary differences.

– people who drink wine are more likely do so as part of a healthy pattern, such as drinking a glass or two with a nice meal. Those habits, rather than their choice of alcohol, may explain their heart health, said Dr. Kenneth Mukamal, at Harvard-affiliated BIDMC in Boston.

Millennials are not stupid

A new report called `US Landscapes 2019´ from Wine Intelligence concludes that people under 35 are drinking less wine than they used to. Part of the reason is that millennials are more health focused than older generations. Findings such as these have resulted in a change in how many wine marketers are addressing young consumers. It is my own observation that an increasing amount of wineries are now pushing the health benefits of red wine. This is incredibly dangerous business practice. The moment a millennial feels cheated by a product category, they will turn against it. Look what is happening to cow milk, a beverage that many millennials argue was dishonest in their health claims. The total volume of milk sold in the United States retail between 2010 and 2015 declined by 13%. Milk should have focused on its superior flavour compared to its vegan options.


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Free download: New paper on modernising sherry (product and marketing)

Full title: Refining the image of premium sherry - Reintroducing the concept of vineyard terroir to the production and marketing of premium sherry - Faculty: Burgundy School of Business, Dijon - Paris - Author: Cruz Liljegren - Academic supervisor: Dr. Benoît Lecat - Date published: 2015-01-01 - Word count: 12.491 - Page count: 41

Tasting Notes for a Globalised World

Focus on structure, especially if you write for a global audience.  

Focus on structure, especially if you write for a global audience.  

Reading about what aromas wine writers find in a particular wine is not only boring, actually it's pretty useless also. If you are in a hurry stop here, you have just read the essence of this post. Thank you for your time. 

Still reading?.. Good. I like you. Let me continue a bit more. I wonder if there is a way to write tasting notes that can "fly without getting lost" to use a contemporary metaphor (and applying it insensibly early..)   

Is there a way that a wine writers impressions of a wine can be understood by readers from Helsinki to Hong Kong? A globalisation-friendly tasting note that can help people across cultures to make informed purchasing decisions. I believe it´s possible. But aromas are problematic. 

Consumers that read tasting notes generally focus on the aroma descriptors. As for example lemon sounds more delicious than high acidity, aroma descriptors leads the customer to believe that it´s the aromas that will make them like or dislike a particular wine. As a writer it's also much easier to rant about subjective aromas, compared with writing about the structural components, which takes real skill to assess. 

Aromas - the further they go, the lesser they mean  

In the light of that wine writers nowadays potentially target a whole world of readers, aroma descriptors become sort of confusing and are potentially useless and even "wrong" to all other cultures than the writers own. Even if a critic has an amazing precision and consistency in aromas, the consumers are eating different apples and smelling different gooseberries.

Aromas - they are pretty quasi-factual anyway  

Aroma descriptors is rarely a useful tool to share ones experience of a wine. The intensity and "style" of aromas might be, but to try to define what aromas are present in your glass is off no more use than the possibly poetic appeal of it. It can make the wine sound delicious that's true, but it creates insecurity in wine drinkers that can’t find the dried violets in a Barolo. And lastly, because of the ever changing nature of aromas they should not be considered a feature of the wine, but a subjective experience of the interaction between yourself, the taster, and the wine at a given place and at a given time. 

Writer, keep your bananas for yourself. 

Writer, keep your bananas for yourself. 

So focus on structure

As a sommelier I can say from experience that wine drinkers don’t like or dislike a wine due to it´s red or black fruit aromas, even if they sometimes think so. Whats really important is the body, the balance between sweetness and acidity, the softness of the tannins, the alcohol and other structural elements. Structure is also of fundamental importance in paring wine with food. Let me share a few tasting notes with you that I have been working on. The effect of the structural tasting note is definitely less romantic than the conventional aroma-inclusive tasting note, but I wonder, are these examples below not more understandable across cultures?

 

Structural Tasting Note V.1. (Minimalistic) 

Example: Meursault: The wine is completely dry and has a rich body with high but balanced acidity. This white wine stands out because of it´s mouth watering mineral character, elegance and complex, ripe persistent flavour. Its a wine that is usually served with fat white fish dishes or poultry with mushroom sauce.

Example: Mosel Riesling (Kabinett:) This wine is off-dry, light in body and with high acidity. The wine stands out because of it´s fresh, clean profile and low alcohol. It´s a wine that is usually served with light fish dishes or on its own. Its very versatile.

Structural Tasting Note V.1. (Minimalistic) This wine is dryness and has a body with tannins? and acidity. This wine stands out because of it´s special traits. Its a wine that is usually served with what foods. 

More Gangsters Drink RIESLINGS than any other bottle of wine!

"More Doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette!" This 1949 Camel commercial famously stated. At this time in history doctors truly where the epitome of - swag. People were heavily influenced by the opinions of these dressed in white, mini-gods, with auras ever as bright as the white dressed hip hop elite of today, famously mingling on the P-diddy all-white yacht parties.  

But modern doctors such as Dr. Dre and famous nigerian/swedish Hip Hop-doctor Dr. Alban have more in common with the vieux garde of doctors than they might think. People listen to them. And act accordingly: Dear wine industry, take the corks out of your ears immediately! 

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What do Elvis Presley, Elton John, The Rolling Stones, and Bruce Springsteen have in common? They all have less number 1 albums than Jay-Z

As you might have have figured out this blog post is about a boat that the wine industry is totally missing. Sometimes even actively avoiding it, such as in the famous Cristal example. But mostly just out of pure ignorance and maybe even fear. To your knowledge, do you happen to know what Elvis Presley, Elton John, The Rolling Stones, and Bruce Springsteen have in common? They all have less number 1 albums than Jay-Z. Hip Hop is a major culture in society just screaming for some beverage to make their own. 

As Hip Hop culture evolves so does the liqueur. From Hennessy over to Cristal, than Armand de Brignac and more recently the wind is blowing to the favor of Moscatos and Rieslings. Famous rapper Fabulous has even named a song after this noble german grape variety "Riesling and Rolling paper" with almost half a million views on Youtube, arguably making it the most viewed Riesling video in history.

You got 99 problems - and getting people to understand terroir - aint one.

And the wine industry is like "Riesling transmit the terroir of the place like no other grape" WAKE UP! You got 99 problems - and getting people to understand terroir - aint one. Honestly, is it popular culture or terroir that gets the majority of wines of the shelfs?


Inspirational example: "Wines of Germany US"

Smelling the soil to find more consumers might work for some. Others in the wine industry are seizing new opportunitys just right as i write this. Not unexpectedly the New Yorkers themselves. Just as Riesling speaks of its terroir, the people from the very same terroir where hip hop got its first momentum some 40 years ago are finely getting their rap - strait, their communication - legit. I'm talking about Wines of Germany US, who promotes german wine it the US. The 17th of October this year they launched a video (Imbedded below) that features "Doktor Hans" and "Big Swanky" rapping their way though one of the most enjoyable wine videos I've ever seen.

So, what do you think about Hip Hop culture and wine? Could it be a long term relationship or is it more of  a "one night stand."  Hit me back with a comment. And while you think I encourage you to sip on a Freaky Muscato or maybe a Central Coast Chardonnay from Little Jonathan Winery. And yes thats the same Jonathan as in Lil Jon