Web 2.0 was supposed to give more power to the wine consumer. One could express oneself on forums, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, Google+ and all social networks. One could get in touch with favorite wine producers while producers could answer disappointed consumers. The virtual world was considered the best friend of the wine drinker.
Then reality struck back. While traveling, wine lovers felt frustrated. This beautiful wine they tasted at a wine bar or while visiting the estate could not be brought back or shipped back home. American tourists expect to be able to ship back home their wines. Unfortunately the complex laws regulating the wine business in the US (and safety rules in international airports) make this dream almost impossible. Some international trade experts brought a solution to this issue. Let’s imagine you are traveling in France or Italy, fell in love with this gorgeous Sangiovese or this velvety Margaux wine and want to ship a case (or two) back home. A few years ago it was impossible. Since 2010, if the producer you are visiting is a member of “Ship It Home USA” founded by Barry Gilbert, your dream will come true. The beauty of the system is that either the winery or the consumer has to worry about shipment: the consumer selects and pays his wines, gives his American home address and will get his case(s) when he is back in the US. The winery just packs the wines and hands them to Ship It Home USA for a fee.
The service is still finding its way to European wineries: a few in France, Italy, Greece and Canada are members. As a marketer, I can only hope it will be adopted by more and more wineries as the service can really helps develop brand awareness and sales among American wine tourists.
In the USA, the three-tier system is not helping the wine lover either. Recent laws prohibiting trade between states irritated some wine drinkers. Tom Wark heard them and launched the American Wine Consumer Coalition. The AWCC has three main goals: “Lobby in the states and at the federal level for the rights of wine consumers; Educate wine regulators about the real interests of wine consumers; Inform the media of the interests of wine consumers”.
From a marketing point of view, both organizations are critical to the wine market. By giving more power to the wine consumer (who is never consulted on what he wishes or needs), they provide a better service and give voice to what the consumers want. Good luck to both services!