(This post is the Executive Summary of the report “Luxury, Wine and Influencer Marketing : The dawning of a new era ” published by VitaBella Luxury Wine on June 2017)
If opinion leaders have long made the running in terms of influence via traditional channels (media, public appearances, word of mouth), it has to be recognized that things are evolving in the world of Luxury and Fine Wines. And it’s a fast-moving, constantly changing evolution that can sometimes make your head spin. For although the traditional opinion leaders still carry considerable weight and should by no means be disregarded, the recent, massive and extremely rapid arrival of new digital influencers cannot be ignored. How can you navigate your way around this permanent flood of new names? How do you make the right choice of channels to reach the right people? And it’s all the more important to address the question since buyers (professionals or end customers) are turning more and more to the internet and to social media for information and advice. And within this new environment numerous historic opinion leaders are not major actors in the sphere of digital influence. The strategic identification of these new digital influencers and the way to approach and exchange with them is a key element of Vitabella’s work in support of their clients’ strategic objectives.
Wine brands today have a huge opportunity to exchange more effectively with a large wine drinking community that often feels lost in the face of an increasingly complex international offer. Vitabella recently carried out a study of the major digital influencers in wine in Europe and the United States, to analyse their circle of influence. The results clearly demonstrated the dawning of a new era. More than 40% of the new digital influencers are not the historic opinion leaders that brands are in contact with today, but are influential members of communities in search of advice, information and opinions. Their influence is measured by Reach (number of followers), Resonance (content shared by others) and Pertinence (subject matter). The impact of these new opinion leaders is enormous, attracting several millions of followers and fans, amongst whom figure professional buyers, fans and consumers. They distinguish themselves from traditional opinion leaders through their use of social media to create or amplify a message. They can just as easily include wine professionals as non-professionals. The number of followers (Reach) is not enough in itself, as some can effectively have a lower number of followers who are particularly well-targeted and engaged, whilst others may have a large number of followers but finally generate little engagement. And beyond the specifically Wine based community attention should also be paid, depending on the brand, to influencers in the sphere of gastronomy, luxury, fashion, or art…(for example here on Instagram with Miss Universe 2012). Hence the need for detailed knowledge and in-depth analysis of these new influencers in order to put in place an effective and made-to-measure strategy.
I’m not announcing the end of traditional marketing orientated towards historic opinion leaders who, I repeat, are not in any way to be neglected, but the opening up of new and complementary opportunities for visibility, and a major turning point in the relationship of wine brands with their communities in the widest sense of the term. A program that targets these digital influencers serves to amplify the efforts of brands by propagating their key messages across social media in an ultra-targeted and formidably effective manner. Influencer Marketing ought to allow brands to build an authentic and mutually beneficial relationship with these digital influencers. And brands have everything to gain: customer knowledge, brand image, authenticity, pertinence of content and engagement.
(Guillaume Jourdan will make presentations at Vinexpo Bordeaux from 18 to 21 June 2017, will contribute to the IT for Business debate on June 9th, 2017 in Paris and to the AFRC workshop with ORANGE on June 27th, 2017 in Paris. You can reach him via LinkedIn)