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Does TWS need Influencers?

Blockquote I’d say the answer to the question is “YES!”, if we are picky about which Influencers they are. If it is someone on Instagram with a good following and a clear interest and knowledge in wine, then that’s fine. After all, there are plenty of people on Instagram with MW after their name. Of course, there are plenty of “blaggers” (as I think young people refer to them) who TWS would be wise to avoid.

Out of interest, why does it matter if the person on Instragram has a interest or knowledge about wine before we’d be happy to work with them. Surely, if they have followers that we’d like to become Society Members then that is itself enough justification to work with them?

There’s an awful lot of people who drink wine who have absolutely no knowledge about it and I see no reason why we cannot work with these people or promote membership to these people.

Assuming the only goal is to convince an existing wine drinker to continue to drink wine but to buy it from the Society then it seems to matter little if we convince them to do that via working with a wine expert on Instragram or working with the latest Love Island winner on Instragram.

Indeed, given that people tend to follow people who share their interests, it is probably a waste of time to work with a person who is already known for wine since their followers are more likely than most to already know about the Society. A much better approach would be to work with someone who has never heard of the Society, and therefore neither have their likely followers, and to them use them to promote the Society.

There is sometimes an element of preaching to the converted in how the Society operates. Sure we’re happy with winning an award from Decanter or getting a mention in a newspaper wine column but neither of those things will likely introduce the Society to a mass new audience of people who have never heard of the Society to start with.

We should be trying to publicise the Society to people who never read about wine and who simply buy the latest SB from Tesco for £7. And to achieve that, it involves a lot more thinking outside the box than simply selecting an existing wine blogger on instragram to work with.

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I posted this on the previous topic so forgive me if you have read it before…

I think there is also a misunderstanding of the world of influencers and, in particular, wine influencers.

The general connotation of an influencer is someone with no training, no qualifications, no special knowledge carves a following on social media for a niche and thereafter influence their followers to buy products, visit hotels etc and thereby earn a living.

Generally speaking, the world of wine influencers is very different. The main reason for that is that most influencers, certainly most that I follow, are all qualified to some degree with various levels of WSET qualifications. They have some substance behind what they post.

There also appears to be a disproportionately large number of female wine influencers. Some of whom have suffered awful sexism. If any of you followed the #winebitch saga you’ll know what I mean. They should be supported not attacked because of the way they look.

There are some Instagram wine accounts that I follow that are absolutely fantastic. They give knowledgable, accessible and often very entertaining insights into wine.

They are an extension of the wine press and many of them, unlike many other forms of influencers, have qualifications to back up their opinions.

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I was going to say that I am not influenced by ‘influencers’ (I don’t read instagram),
but… as @SteveSlatcher says, further above, this board acts as an influencer promoting TWS and I realise I am influenced by posts from others in my purchases.

When someone gives a good review to a wine I have not had, I stick a bottle on my next order. I am buying a lot more TWS wine now as a result of taking part on this board.

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Well said. My earlier comment in the banished thread said the same

Believe it or not, these people you characterise actually do care a lot about both knowledge and authenticity. Regardless of whether it’s “this obscure greek grape is better than this one”, “this cheap prosecco is better than this one”, or “this premium rosé is better than this one (but the bottle is a pain in the arse)”, regardless of what chunks of right wing press/the cabinet would have you believe, people do like experts.

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Go look at any of Love Island male contestants and you’ll see plenty of half naked male pictures promoting all manner of brands. I’ve no problem with the Society working with them to promote the Society to their followers.

I just think it lacks a bit of ambition to let people find the Society. People of all ages and demographics enjoy drinking wine and I see no reason why we have to wait until someone hits middle age in the hope that they then find the Society. In my view, let’s target the 21 year olds, the 25 year olds, the 29 year olds and promote the Society to them and persuade them to become members. Classic brand management is getting people whilst they are young and this should be a approach for the Society.

We obviously differ on this point but I honestly believe the only requirement for someone to want to join the Society should be that they like wine. They don’t need to find it, they don’t need to be middle aged, they just need to like wine. As long as they fulfil that requirement, the Society should be trying to convince them to join. Now if they are a young lady who follows the latest Love Island stars and who would never read a newspaper wine section in their lives it might make the job of recruiting them harder, but we should certainly be trying to recruit them even if it means working with people who historically we wouldn’t have considered working with.

It is too easy to say, well these are the types of members we’ve always recruited so that’s the way it should always be. It is harder to try to recruit people who historically would not have joined but the rewards are so much greater if we can succeed in doing this.

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That’s great, but we’re trying to appeal to people who don’t follow experts.

There’s no shame in admitting it. Waitrose doesn’t advertise during Coronation Street because they think the show is an expert forum for educating people about food shopping. They do it because the people who watch Coronation Street eat food and might then buy from Waitrose. Ditto with Instragram influencers, they might not know the first thing about wine but as long as their followers drink wine then getting them to promote the Society is a job well done.

We’re trying to appeal, or at least I think we should be, to the twenty something who buys their wine for £7 from Tesco and who follows the latest Love Island star on Instragram. You can work with all the experts you like but it is likely they won’t be able to get through to this audience either. This is not a unique problem to the Society, brands these days are totally having to change their marketing styles because young people consume content on Youtube and follow people on Instragram. Advertising on page 10 of the Times or during an advert break on ITV won’t reach this audience.

The Society can adapt or it can risk fading into irrelevance whilst brands like Naked become more prominent and successful because they did get with the times and adapt to the changing marketplace. Most of us here think the Society is much better than Naked so, frankly, anytime someone chooses to shop with Naked is a failure for the Society since Naked isn’t a better ‘product’ than the Society but some would argue it certainly has a better marketing effort behind it. It often doesn’t matter if you have the best product if your competitor has the best marketing techniques.

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Here is one wine website’s ‘Influencers to follow in 2020’

First one - couple of chaps. Shirts off in a few, wine in hand.
Second one. Male and female. Females in crop tops, males exercising top less (no idea what it has to do with wine)
Fourth one - male. Bottle of wine with swim shorts on (him, not the wine…). Drinking in the launderette in boxers

etc etc

Is it relevant to me? No
Are they offensive to me? No

C’est la vie, maintenant. Should TWS pretend it doesn’t exist? And stick with people finding the society, as if by osmosis? In my opinion, no. The society should not be aloof, just because we didn’t do it like that in the past.

Alcohol drinking is down amongst the youth of today, and therefore a smaller market for the society going forward. Do we want to end up like the Australian Wine Society and go bust?

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I’ve just had a really horrible thought…

"it’s not a middle-aged white male who is in charge of this WS Community is it???

I Like to think we are all influencers, it’s just we pay for the samples… and don’t do much influencing. Scantily clad is optional.

If you mean ‘influencer’s who get free samples’ - then yes TWS does need them. I imagine TWS marketing team (or whatever the current phrase is) are more than capable of sorting out the wheat from the chaff.

Where it gets contentious (for me in anyway) is when the ‘influencer’ is a group like Decanter who charge a LOT for submissions to their annual awards comp. Every ticket wins a prize etc.

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I’m afraid that doesn’t make it right or tasteful in my book - but I accept that is just me and my opinion, and I’m good with that.

I agree! the example I gave wasn’t to suggest that this is the only way we can attract members - by sitting and waiting for them - only that this happens. And if it happened to a lucky 44 year old, I can’t see why it won’t to a 25 year old. I’m not saying it’s a strategy; I’m just pointing out that evangelical recruitment is not the only way.

I think you’re overestimating our differences here! :slight_smile: There is no doubt in my mind that members who join - but who also remain, and buy regularly, beyond the token £20 - are those who love wine. We are a Wine Society - there is no other criteria for joining other than people liking wine and wanting to experience more of it and expand horizons.

Again, I don’t disagree with you on this point! The Society should be a diverse place - all ages, all colours, all creeds all backgrounds! My only objection was to aligning ourselves to a certain ethos, one I’ve already described which rather offends me as a female member.

Now, if you’re saying “this is what young people are like - get over it” - then there is nothing left to argue about. I shall just have to accept. But I live with a 17 year old, who - upon discussing the above with last night, described an alternative view of the young (female, at that) - so I’m not so sure it’s so black and white.

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Sadly a practice that has been going on for an age! It renders any sort of accolade worthless. An English wine even ‘best in the world’ last year. Enough said, and judged by some who have a vested interest in "bigging up’ a particular wine region/country.

I agree with a lot of what @Inbar is saying here, especially about ethos and what TWS represents.

I know it’s an extreme example but for me we shouldn’t be aiming ourselves at the Love Island crowd(I do watch Love Island myself! but I think we all know the type of person we are talking about) and that’s because they aren’t TWS target audience. Yes they may like wine but for me they are getting their wine fix from the latest celebrity endorsed / owned wines (Kylie for example) and there is no need to go after an audience that we aren’t going to win over.

I feel like I’m a relatively young member here and I definitely appreciate TWS more having found it as part of my wine journey and also appreciate it’s history and ethos and that’s it more than ordering some cheaper wine to get drunk to.

An example using clothing, which might get shot down, the advertisements during Love Island are brands like NastyGal and fast fashion brands that the younger generation will buy into - you don’t get the traditional fashion houses advertising to that crowd because they know their target audience. It’s the same here, let Kylie and co go after that crowd and when they maybe get into wine a little more they will find the likes of TWS out there.

For me it devalues the TWS if they started using certain influencers to appeal to the younger crowd BUT I do agree that finding a balance where they use someone fairly respected and knowledgable who happens to appeal to a younger market then that’s perfect, have no issue there.

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“That’s great, but we’re trying to appeal to people who don’t follow experts”

I think you’re forgetting the holy trinity Alexa, Siri and Google

But if the LoveIsland crowd want to join TWS, why shouldn’t they?

Should you only be allowed to join if you meet certain criteria (“I hereby promise not to watch pap on ITV ever again”)? As long as the wine sold doesn’t also alter (to the Blossom Hill level) to fit their criteria, it shouldn’t make any difference to the more established members.

And saying they’ll find the TWS after going through the Kylie phase; how? Remember they don’t read papers, magazines or watch telly…You don’t suddenly wake up aged 40 and know TWS exists.

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On reflection, some of the arguments here remind me of a different kind of recruitment drive - in the sector I work in (Higher Education).

Over many years there has been a zealous drive to recruit anyone and everyone to university - a sort of desperation to be as inclusive as possible. But those of us working in the sector only now begin to see the implications of this drive - having to work with students who are completely fish out of water, and who - had they been given better options, more suitable options - would have ended up doing something more aligned to their talents; instead, they churn out a degree which cost them their mental health and their self-esteem, not to mentions thousands of pounds of debt.

Do we want an exclusive Higher Education like the olden days? Hell, no! the more educated people we have, the better society we shall (hopefully) create. But does this mean that higher education is for everyone? well, in my 16 years experience - absolutely not. There are many other routes, there are many other paths.

It’s not a complete parallel to what we’re discussing here, I grant you. But some of these arguments about blind recruitment remind me of discussions we are having virtually daily in my team.

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I’m not saying they can’t join and there obviously shouldn’t be any restrictions to join but I don’t think there is a need to actively target them using influencers that’s all.

Because once you start getting into wine a bit more and by talking to others that share your interest I find that TWS isn’t exactly hard to find.

it took me like maybe 2 years of starting to get myself into wine and then getting introduced to TWS. It’s not exactly hidden, I just think they shouldn’t stoop to gimmicks and influencers (in the worst term) to find younger people to join

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That’s very well said…it was a worthy but quite naive aspiration which isn’t going well and was never going to in the real world . I know from my son’s peer group that a significant number have dropped out of courses that were unsuitable for them and are now much happier doing vocational training, apprenticeships, sandwich degrees etc.

Also know of a few fish out of water myself… a young lad who plays cricket for our club started two degree courses that he frankly just wasn’t capable of. He asked me for a reference for third one and I asked him if he was really sure if this was for him…he went away and decided it wasn’t which was a good idea.

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Yes, this phrase rings so true in many areas of life. It often seems hard to choose between what is most diverse, equal, inclusive, etc and what actually makes the best sense for the person or people involved.

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I’m with you. I’ve never watched Love Island…my daughter probably has!

It feels like this would probably be a pretty inefficient target to me. As @Inbar and you say, maybe let them find their way into wine, perhaps the next stage in that journey would be better.

I do think, and I clearly wasn’t alone, as was clear from t’other thread, let’s call it the ‘B’ thread, that there is reputational risk too, which is a lot worse than just poorly targeted marketing.