I’ve got a wine for that …

“… 78% of smartphone owners use their phones while they shop. “This is the future and everyone will adapt,” Schmidt said. “Because people are fundamentally better off with a better and smarter and more empowered, if you will, customer.”
Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman at Google

I’ve got an app for that …

Soon after arriving early at Waterbar SF for an interview with Hello Vino co-founder Rick Breslin, I overheard a guest at an adjacent table say the now oft repeated “I’ve got an app for that.” And this made me reflect on just how far we’ve come as always connected consumers, relying on our handheld computers (smartphones) to assist with the task of our daily lives. The interview was set-up via DMs on the Hoot Suite Twitter client app. I found parking near the Embarcadero using the ParkSF app, and booked the restaurant reservation on the Open Table app.

The first mobile phones, available for consumers in 1984, weren’t very smart, but boy were they expensive, heavy and the size of a brick. The initial user base was limited to a small group of affluent early adopters. Since these formative days in the telecom timeline, the continued miniaturization of components, and the improvement in processor capability, coupled with significant infrastructure build has now led led to the widespread use by consumers of smartphone technology. Nielsen reports that the the trajectory of adoption is equally rapid, and that by the end of 2011, 49% of USA wireless users will be smartphone users. And, these users download and use apps, that thanks to the Apple App Store and Google’s  Android Market, will exceed more than 950,000 app  selections by August 2011. To date more than 10 billion apps have been downloaded from the Apple App Store alone.

In an effort to filter out all this noise and find a wine app that will engage consumers at the point of purchase, I’ve identified criteria for a solution set that merges the best in platform development, ease of consumer use with a significant identifiable installed user base and
verifiable analytics. One that combines technology and social networking to help drive improved m-commerce results and shape purchase intent during the wine selection and buying process. Hello Vino engages wine consumers as an integral part of the buying process. Buyers who, in our new world of pull marketing, choose at this specific moment in time to interact by launching and interfacing with the Hello Vino app, a food and wine pairing app that has achieved more than 500,000 app downloads and delivers more than 1 million recommendations per month. So, off to Waterbar SF to get the back story and the inside scoop on the soon to be released ver 2.0, from Hello Vino CEO Rick Breslin.

The inside scoop

The new wine shopper paradigm …

Rick has released, to the readers of the Agents of Disruption Vlog™, this closely distributed (existing clients only) demo video of the new label photo scanner feature in the soon to be released  Hello Vino ver 2.0.  The unofficial word is “any day now.” The official release is targeted for June 1, 2011.

A recent survey by Adology  shows that branded smartphone applications influence
consumers’ purchase decisions. The ability to view product information with your mobile smartphone on an opt in basis also tends to impact purchase intent. As a muti-platform wine marketer, you should be aware that the era of push marketing has come and gone, and the age of pull marketing has arrived, and your consumer is now in charge. This means identifying those tools that best provide the opportunity to achieve planned results. As we’ve all observed, the average number of wine SKUs in retail wine aisles have exponentially grown  over time, and the marketplace has become quite congested. The idea that most wine shoppers feel either intimidated or overwhelmed by choice is a significant point of friction that often negatively affects wine purchase decisions.

Rick Breslin has provided an on-point overview of the Hello Vino solution: “Hello Vino ‘Scales’ the Sommelier Experience – We’ve packaged the question-and-answer process that a wine professional conducts when assisting an overwhelmed consumer with making a selection.  Humans, unfortunately, can’t (always) scale.  But, an app to help with wine selections can exist on every shopper’s smartphone.”

Copyright© 2011 Agents of Disruption Blog All rights reserved.

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Dreams …

“A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.”

… Oscar Wilde

I’m Shipping up to Boston

Conventional wisdom is just that… conventional. A way of thinking that’s far too safe for today’s most effective brand marketers, that small subset of dreamers who display an entrepreneurial mindset. These wine biz imagineers tend to be the ones with the ability to move the needle past the restrictions imposed by conventional wisdom. Through a Twitter friend request, I discovered a great example of this new wave of brand marketer in Máire Murphy, an Irish expat, who grew up in her mother’s wine and spirits distribution business in Belfast. After graduating with honors in marketing from the University of Ulster, Máire moved to Boston to run the marketing department for the Martignetti Companies, transitioning to sales after four years as the first woman, ever, to sell wine for New England’s largest distributor.  Ever the ground breaker, Máire moved to Sonoma County to work for the then emerging wine tech company, Wineshopper.com, which soon merged with Wine.com. With the bust of the dotcom bubble, Wine.com decided to close their Napa based offices.

Everybody Takes a Tumble

When one door closes, another opens-up. Máire with her husband & business partner, Walt Averill,  launched the Sin É Wine Company, generating on-premise focused wine brands at a rapid clip. Noticed and then approached by Springfield, VA based Billington Imports, Máire and Walt sold their company, and Máire was hired to be the VP of the Billington Wine Studio, a portfolio of eight California based brands producing more than 40,000 case of wines. In 2008, though having lived and worked in the States for some time,  Máire was named one of the ‘Top 50 Business’ people in Northern Ireland.

Not willing to be be pigeonholed, Máire and Walt continued to  drive innovation by launching Wines West, a wine business focused sales and marketing firm, and introduced Rua, a new Napa Valley entry that is modeled on a wine that Máire remembered from her first trips to France with her Mother, the Saint Emilion Grand Cru , Tertre-Roteboeuf. With an awareness of the crowded marketplace, The Wines West team wanted to differentiate their wines not only in flavor profile and story, but in the presentation. After many brainstorming sessions, the idea of a new reusable capsule appeared in a dream, that resulted in the development and launch of Capabunga.

A Wine Marketer’s Immagination

The Sunnyside of the Street

Capabunga is one of those ‘why didn’t someone think of this before’ moments. But, isn’t that what dreamers do? They think of solutions to problems that everyone else knows exist, but they’re most often the first movers in identifying a niche market, and because they imagine the process through to completion, the execution leads to a new perspective. There are so many good examples in the history of the evolution of wine packaging moving the needle forward, but this is the first and perhaps best example to date of a new ‘once the bottle’s open’ reclosure solution. The loss of this talented individual by Ireland’s beverage industry has been a win for the USA wine business. Go raibh céad maith agat, Éire!

Acknowledgement: Thanks to Landmark Vineyards for providing the set location

Copyright© 2011 Agents of Disruption Blog All rights reserved.

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The Screening Room …

“Societies have always been shaped more by the nature of the media by which men communicate than by the content of the communication.”
Marshall McLuhan

Market Movers

Visual media has long demonstrated the power to drive and/or change markets. On Sunday, November 17, 1991 CBS ’60 Minutes’ corespondent Morley Safer hosted a report on the “French Paradox.” The report supported scientific research that the moderate consumption of red wine tended to prevent coronary artery disease and heart attacks by as much as 50%. The ‘drink more red wine’ permission light was turned on, and red wine sales in the USA market zoomed. The US was predominantly a white wine market in 1991. Of note, Kendall-Jackson, founded in 1982, depleted almost 800,000 cases of Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay in 1991. Overnight wineries were caught with short inventories of red wines, and farmers started planting red wine varieties in all available potential wine grape acreage, puling out pears, plums and other formerly viable crops.

The power of movies to move markets was first noted by AoD in Ian Fleming’sDr. No,” when suave secret agent James Bond stated his preference for vintage Dom Perignon. Dom Perignon was little known outside of a few indie circles in the USA wine market. Overnight DP became the Champagne of choice during the ‘Mad Men‘ era for the emerging American aspirational consumer, helping  to create demand and awareness for the entire Champagne category.

Another interesting case study of movies affecting wine market dynamics is the movie “Disclosure.” In a memorable scene, key to the movie’s plot line,  Demi Moore  attempted to seduce Michael Douglas after sharing a glass of, the then obscure, Pahlmeyer Chardonnay. The movie was moderately successful, but the demand and price for Jason Pahlmeyer’s wine soon skyrocketed.

One of the best recent displays of wine markets being moved by a movie, is this example based on a single line of dialog in “Sideways,” that resulted in the noted ‘Sideways effect‘ when Miles shouted out “I’m NOT drinking any f***ing Merlot!” The previously smoking hot merlot market slowed overnight. Sales of wines designated Merlot, without regard to price or origin, flattened. The resulting market dislocation and change in consumer perceptions caught the attention of young Napa, CA based filmmaker, Rudolf N. McClain. Some of his favorite wines were and still are Merlots.

Movies & Wine (please click on the above video to view)

Only the Lonely …

As a filmmaker and a wine lover, Rudolf McClain is a champion of the unloved, the disabused, the lonely grapes in our wine universe. His skill in creating interesting movies based on just a single wine grape variety, speak well of his ability to conceive, craft, shape and produce compelling narratives. The previously released and well reviewed documentary “Merlove,” may well have helped to directionally shift the tsunami of bad press, negative consumer sentiment and the resulting weak demand for Merlot wines. Since the release of “Merlove,” the Merlot broad market has fully recovered in quality, quantity and value. And now there’s a new project in production addressing the recently unpopular Syrah, ‘Que Syrah, Shiraz.” I suspect that many Syrah winemakers will closely follow the progress and release of  Rudolf’s new film.

Copyright© 2011 Agents of Disruption Blog All rights reserved.

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Change your karma …

The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!”
Jack Kerouac

Hey,Who Knew?

As technology continues to be woven into the fabric of our everyday lives, every now and then you see a new way of doing things, a new way of thinking, and maybe, just maybe, you experience a moment of spontaneous intellectual combustion. These moments of discovery can light up your cerebral synapses  like the Seabstiani Theater marquee at dusk, and you think and say “Hey, who knew?” My most recent ‘hey, who knew’ discovery happened when I came across the WinePad at a local Napa Valley tasting room. It wasn’t so much that it was a simple, ingenious use of technology, but that it married the idea of  the capture-card, a searchable CRM database and social media with the very cool iPad, allowing customers, at the point-of-purchase, to opt in and share their tasting experience, provide their contact information and their specific wine preferences. This tends to enrich the visitor experience, helping the winery, in real-time, take that loose-tie experience and form a deeper connection. A connection that is more likely to lead to commerce: visitors + technology + connection = commerce.

I had one of these Kerouacian Satori in Paris moments, at the Gary Vaynerchuk The Thank You Economy book tour stop at Sonoma’s Reader’s Books, when just by chance Thomas Hansen, CEO of WinergyInc and the co-founder of the WinePad, sat next to me. His impression on me was immediate. I wanted to know more about the ‘BIG IDEA’ behind the WinePad.

The Big Idea (please click on the above video to view)

Time for Change

Be the change you want to see in the world.” … Mahatma Gandhi

Many of our wine industry friends and fellow travelers are far removed from the bleeding edge of wine marketing innovation. Hopefully, by now most wine marketers would have progressed past the 1,000 yard stare stage when discussing adopting workable, pragmatic technological solutions. It really’s just a matter of being relevant, and gaining an advantage in the highly competitive wine business. As we progress through the normal course of stasis in our daily wine business lives, I wonder which way the karmic inflection point will tip. Will it tip towards the world of reverse social Darwinism forecasted by Mike Judge in ‘Idiocracy,’ or will it tip towards a new age of enlightenment envisioned and enabled by ‘techies’ like Thomas Hansen?  Well, since the directional nature, the thrivability of your wine business is within your sphere of influence, it’s likely that through the addition of the best available tools you’ll be able to, in this collective dig out of the Great Recession, change your karma.

The Players:

Techie: Thomas Hansen, CEO at WinegyInc and co-founder of the WinePad
Interviewer: Suzanne Sandberg, Director of Sales at WinergyInc
Tasting Room Liaison: Jake Podesta, The Room, Flora Springs Winery

Copyright© 2011 Agents of Disruption Blog All rights reserved.

Posted in social networking, technology, wine marketing, WinePad | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The new agents of disruption

“You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it’s evolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Don’t you know that you can count me out
Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right
all right, all right”

…. The Beatles (the White Album)

Change and Disruption

‘Let’s start a revolution,’ the mantra that became a reality over the last several months as North Africa and the Middle East exploded with revolutionary fervor, as a new generation of tech savvy Millennials made use of disruptive internet technology, via multiple social networking platforms, to press for social change. I just wonder if Mark ZuckerbergDustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes sat in their Harvard dorm room and said ‘let’s start a revolution.’ If they did, I’m sure they were thinking of a social networking revolution, not a disruptive, ground-up, all-out nation rebuilding exercise. But then again, the story of the unintended consequences of disruption is hardy new. A short list of disruptors of the existing order includes Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, and Albert Einstein, who asked questions that challenged the conventional wisdom of their times, then developed solutions that have had significant long tail impact on social, cultural and business behaviors. For meaningful models of agents of disruption we need to look to the contemporary subset of disruptors, the new agents of change:  Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Marc Andreessen, Steve CaseJeff Bezos, Larry PageSergey BrinTony Hsieh, Mark Zuckerberg and Ev Williams.

The New Disruptors

Gary Vaynerchuk in Sonoma, CAA key attribute of change seems to be, that while sometimes it’s planned, it’s often the confluence of events, social and technological, that result in what Malcolm Gladwell termed The Tipping Point.John Daniel Jr. at Inglenook, Napa Valley This balancing act on a teeterboard that we call change has many well documented examples in the history of wine business marketing, exemplified by  the pioneers of the modern wine marketing era, John Daniel Jr, Ernest and Julio Gallo and André Tchelistcheff, soon followed by market-makers Robert Mondavi, Jess Jackson, and Peter Granoff. A short list of the new innovators who are now impacting markets should include Paul Dolan, Jean Charles Boisset, Joel GottGary Vaynerchuk and Paul Mabray et.al. New crops of marketers continue to emerge. In the coming weeks, the Agents of Disruption vlog will provide a platform for these new agents of disruption to tell their stories and showcase their individual contributions to the wine business. Narratives, that when viewed as a whole will help brand owners model the future of wine marketing.

I’ll be out capturing, on my iPhone 4, a series of Agents of Disruption iMovies in the upcoming weeks, but if you’d just can’t wait any longer, here’s a preview of a short  YouTube video featuring an agent of disruption.

Copyright© 2011 Agents of Disruption Blog All rights reserved.

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