To start, and in the spirit of online discussion, the Adelaide Hills region wine industry has taken to the net.
Wine 3.0 challenge for Hills
POSSIBLY too thin-skinned when it comes to criticism, the wine industry is about to fully expose itself to the slings and arrows of social media 3.0.
The Adelaide Hills Wine Region tonight launches a virtual Wine Room – an online, interactive forum where fans or critics can engage in live banter with winemakers and with each other.
The Web 3.0 site is a research project by the Adelaide University School of Business to examine how social media is used by the wine industry – the first study of its kind by the wine industry.
“Everybody engaged in this knows the risk,” marketing lecturer Dr Roberta Veale told Indaily. “If somebody posts up a comment and says, I tried so-and-so’s wine and I didn’t like it, that statement will stay there"
“We will moderate it to ensure there is no foul language and those sorts of things, but if somebody goes up there and says, I was up at so-and-so’s winery and thought it was lousy, that will sit there.
“This is kind of the risky side, I guess, of going down this path – you have to be thick-skinned enough to say, well, if somebody is giving us honest criticism, we have to cop it.”
For tonight’s launch, an “online tasting” will be conducted by Hahndorf Hill Winery while the participants remain in the comfort of their own homes. There will be a live streaming of the tastings and instant feedback and questions.
Dr Veale said the Wine Room represented a groundbreaking strategy for the Adelaide Hills wine industry.
“To our knowledge, no other wine region has employed this technology and these types of consumer engagement strategies – combining community building and social media tools – as a marketing device for the region as a whole.
“In time, we expect to see members of the Wine Room hosting their own events and showing their fellow community members what the region and its products mean to them.”
She expected other wine regions to follow the Adelaide Hills lead.
In a sense, the Wine Room could be a virtual focus group of unlimited numbers where the participants became involved in product development, Veale said.
“A wine brand, for example, might go online and say, here’s a concept for a new label; we are thinking about launching this wine and this label; what do you think?
“Certainly some brands like Harley Davidson and Apple use it very effectively for new product development because their own customers make suggestions to them.”
One of the questions that Dr Veale is keen to answer for her own research is the extent to which people will accept a brand owner creating an online space.
“Because traditionally the successful sites are consumer-owned. And also what events and strategies do people enjoy most and lead to the brand attachment that we are looking for?
“Obviously at the end of the day the brands themselves hope that we can engender some loyalty and support.”
Dr Veale, a pinot noir fan, said that negotiating her way through the wine egos and convincing them to participate was all part of the process.
“Those brands that are participating are up for it. Participation is entirely voluntarily. Those that don’t want to, that’s fine, no problem.”
The Wine Room will be launched online at 7pm. Membership is free at http://www.adelaidehillswine.com.au/wineroom/register Funded by the Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation (GWRDC), the project is supported by the University of Adelaide’s Wine2030 Research Network and the Business School.