What Does It All Mean?

In the next few posts I want to examine the results of the "Electronic Wine" Survey. But in this first post I’d like to look at the overall results. There are some interesting findings when you start parsing the results, but for now let’s look at the overall findings.

You can see the overall results of the 266 respondents yourself BY CLICKING HERE.

First and foremost, take note of the fact that nearly everyone that took the survey says they use the Internet to educate themselves about wine. Stunned? Good. I hope not. What they say they use it for is interesting however.While 45% say they use the Internet for "Wine Pricing Information", only 25% say they use the Internet for "Purchasing Advise". Meanwhile, 68% say they they are most likely use the Internet for finding "Wine Reviews". Now, combine this information with the fact that fully 40% of the respondents said they DO NOT use the Internet for wine buying. Perhaps this question was not phrased correctly. But perhaps it means lots of people look use the Internet for wine buying the same way they use it for car buying: They do the research on-line, then buy offline.

I must say, I’m surprised by that 40% saying they don’t use the Internet for wine buying. This tells me that there is LOTS of room for growth in the on-line buying world.

Another interesting finding is how respondents view the utility of on-line wine information vs. print wine information. In general, respondents find the two sources similar in quality over a variety of categories. EXCEPT in the area of "Wine Pricing Information" and "Basic Wine Information". By far, respondents view wine pricing information better on the Internet than in print publications. This should be no surprise thanks in large part to folks like Wine Searcher and Snooth and others. But I was surprised to see the Internet get the nod in a significant way over print publications when it comes to "Basic Wine Information". Perhaps it’s just the huge amount of Basic Wine Information that exists on the Internet that gives this venue the nod over print.

Now here’s something VERY interesting: 60% of respondents said they purchase no more than 10% of their wine on the Internet. Maybe it’s just my own experience that makes this a surprise to me. In our house upwards of 80% is purchased on-line. Still, I would have expected more. Again, this tells me there is huge potential for growth in on-line wine sales. And, by the way, take note that it’s wine retailers that get a significantly higher percentage of on-line sales over winery websites.

What’s wrong with the on-line buying experience. Clearly it’s a lack of accessibility. Almost half the respondents cited "Shipping Not Available in My State" as the biggest problem with on-line wine shopping". What does this mean? Combined with the fact that more folks say they buy from on-line retailers than wineries, it means I need to work harder on behalf of the Specialty Wine Retailers Association to get more states into the game and thereby more consumers into the game.

Finally, who are the respondents? Well, we tend to be well-educated males between 40 and 60 years of age who make decent money. Who is surprised?

More interesting analysis coming. For now, take a look at the basic results HERE.

Posted In: FermSurvey


8 Responses

  1. John Ferringer - April 29, 2008

    “I need to work harder on behalf of the Specialty Wine Retailers Association to get more states into the game and thereby more consumers into the game.”
    Agreed. But I would also recommend the other side of the coin as well, meaning that wineries need to be educated on the current legal situations in states as well. I live in Indiana and most of the wineries I have thought about buying from in recent months don’t realize that our laws have changed for the better and they can ship to me w/ much less hassle. Any help in getting current information about changes like this to wineries would be much appreciated.

  2. Arthur - April 29, 2008

    I am also conducting a survey looking at wine information, wine reviews and purchasing patters.
    (If I may: http://tinyurl.com/3lglf4 )
    Admittedly, we are both looking at somewhat similar issues from different persoectives
    I don’t know if I am surprised by the way the “Basic Wine Information” question hashed out – for Print and web. I think to an extent, when publications like the Spectator do a feature on a region or variety (Chardonnay), they do offer some basic educational content in the context of the piece– if less formally structures.
    I wonder how much of the way the results of this question played out has to do with the fact that sitting at the computer, one can search multiple sources at once – yielding the sought information.
    If the question were: “think of the 3 wine websites you visit most frequently (please name them) and consistently, how would you rate those on the basis of basic wine information category?”
    Also, I would ask: “Where do you get your basic wine information?” and offer a place for readers to enter the sites they use.
    I would also want to see readers state what 3 sites they felt do a poor job (or could do a much better job, given their prominence) of offering educational material.
    As for internet purchasing, call me weird, but I prefer to get my wines from sources as minimally removed from the producer as possible. This is not for some ideological reason, but rather because then I feel there is less chance for the wine to have been mishandled, heated, etc. I realize that living in California (and 2-3 hours from wine country) I do not face the same issues as someone in the midwest.

  3. Stu - April 29, 2008

    Interesting results. I am very surprised also at the lack of wine being purchased online versus offline. On the topic of “Basic Wine Information”, i think one thing that will be interesting to look at is “In depth wine information”. The internet is great for learning the basics, but to really drill into wine knowledge I still find the best sources to be books such as “Oxford Companion to Wine”, etc. Another growth opportunity will be to move some of this great detailed information online.

  4. johng - April 29, 2008

    Great topic, but I think the last question in your poll shows the limitations of your results. Over half of your respondents indicate that they work in or around the wine business; I think we can toss their answers about purchasing out for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that they often have purchasing options the general public does not. I’m more interested in knowing what the other 45% said about purchasing, or better yet, what a sample of people who are not wine-savvy enough to be Fermentation readers say about it.
    BTW I know that Christian Miller, a partner at Wine Opinions who does this stuff for a living, stops by here on occasion. I would love to know if he has done numbers on online purchasing habits.

  5. Steve Y - April 29, 2008

    “Now here’s something VERY interesting: 60% of respondents said they purchase no more than 10% of their wine on the Internet.”
    I wonder if people included wine clubs/mailing lists in this number. I did.

  6. WineGent - April 29, 2008

    Tom; While some of us live in states that allow wine to be shipped to your door, some of us do not. States such as Maryland, Michigan and Ohio have antiquated laws that discourage free trade. Many dedicated wine lovers simply circumvent the law by shipping to a neighboring state or jurisdiction (I ship to my office in Virginia). It is a shame that in this day and age such restrictions are still in place.
    I love your style of writing and thank you for your continued support of wine and the wine industry! WineGent http://www.winegent.com

  7. Aristide - Blog di viaggio nel vino - May 4, 2008

    Sondaggio: Electronic Wine [© Fermentation.com]

    Aristide riprende in mano lo strumento dei sondaggi online, già sperimentati nel 2005, anno I di questo wine blog. Il pretesto me lo offre niente meno che Tom Wark, l’autore californiano del wine blog Fermentation.com. Qualche settimana fa ha proposto

  8. Argentina Global Wines - June 22, 2008

    If you are thinking of buying Argentine wines, Argentina Global Wines works for you, searching and advising you on what you really need, distances are not distances any more. Argentina Global Wines is your local operator, your buying robot for the volume that you consider necessary, we know the Argentine market with more than 40 year experience, and we will be able to provide the product that you need in the shortest possible time.

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