This Was One of the Hardest Things I’ve Ever Done. Here’s Why It Was Worth It. (Probably.)


Not gonna lie.

It was tough.

Catching and holding the attention of 45 students at a time, last week in Bordeaux, as part of an MBA program in wine business. My commitment was for nine hours with one group of 45 students and then to repeat those nine hours, back to back, for another 45 students.

I tried. My goodness, I tried. And I did not always succeed.

Not gonna lie about that either.

But I’m writing about it today as a follow up to an Enolytics 101 post a few weeks ago about “gifting” these students, and other wine business students I’ll teach this year, with a year’s worth of access to a very powerful data visualization platform called Qlik.

How did that go?

It caught their interest. Which, as I wrote above, was really hard to do. But this did. I wanted to share a few reasons why, because I think they say a lot about the next generation of wine business professionals. Specifically, I think these reasons speak to both the promises and the challenges that these people face as they step into their roles at wine businesses around the world.

Here goes, in terms of what caught students’ interest about the data visualization module of the class:

  • They have a chance to do something that other people in their companies don’t know how to do. They can learn a tool that adds unique value. And they can learn it for free.

  • The European Union itself has already bought into big data for the wine industry, namely by funding a project called Big Data Grapes that’s part of the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program. (Sidebar: My talking about this project raised eyebrows. Literally. The students were surprised in part, I think, because the funding of the project “brought it home” to their own backyards. I wasn’t up there talking about something that was happening in some far-off hub of technology that has no bearing on the lives and the world that’s most familiar to them. This was real, it’s within reach, and it could impact them directly.)

  • Innovation in wine business can have social impact too, whether the innovation impacts communities in crises or small, family-run businesses or the under-representation of women in the industry.

  • 90% of all information is consumed visually. 70% of all sensory receptors are in the eyes. And 30% of the brain’s processing power is dedicated to sight.

Is it easy to catch and hold the interest of young professionals in the wine business? Nope. But if you can, and when you do, their imaginations take off.

Watching that happen comes close – real close – to compensating for how exhausting the efforts are in the first place.

Can you relate to what I’m talking about here? Have you had similar experiences? I’d love to hear.

Thank you, as always, for reading.


What Consumers Are Saying About Your Wine

So yeah.

You know that consumers are out there drinking your wine.

You also know that they're talking about it -- in their social media circles and on platforms dedicated to wine communities -- and hopefully that's where you're meeting them and interacting with them.


How do you measure what they're saying about your brand?

How do you measure, in a quantified way, brand sentiment across multiple platforms?

How do you take an accurate, quantified pulse of how your brand is perceived in the marketplace? How do you know what consumers are thinking about your wines?

We've got some ideas on that, and we think it'll help.

Here are seven ways that big data can measure when it comes to sentiment about your brand.

  1. Consumer descriptions of a specific brand. That is, the actual words that consumers use to talk about your wines. In this country, and abroad if you like. In particular markets. In pretty much any language you choose.
  2. Consumer descriptions of wines from your region or AVA, so that you have an idea about context and how you're doing compared to close competitors.
  3. Market by market comparison of those descriptions. Boston versus Houston, say. Or New York versus Los Angeles. Or or or.
  4. Consumer ratings of your brand's wines compared to similar wines.
  5. Market by market comparison of the consumer ratings.
  6. Consumer interest tracked by geography. We'd show you this in heatmaps, as localized as you like, so that you can overlay consumer interest with brand data on market placements.
  7. Consumer sentiment tracked over time (yearly, quarterly, monthly, weekly, daily) in order to gauge changes in sentiment.

We'd love to tap into the data sources that can pull back the curtain on each of these factors for your wines.

The information is there. It's just waiting for you to say Go.

Data Sources Outside the Norm, and How They Help

At Enolytics we talk and think quite a lot about third-party data sources – companies, that is, who have collected consumer data records over the natural course of their operations. These companies are normally, and naturally, in the wine business, but today I’d like to focus for a moment on another source that is outside that norm:

U.S. census data.

The U.S. Census Bureau does what it does – produces data about the American people and economy, which is used for planning decisions that range from public transportation to fire precincts to new housing.

SIDEBAR: You might think that the homepage for the U.S. Census Bureau is a little geeky, and IMO you’d be right. But boy, is it ALSO a treasure trove of information that’s up-to-date, relevant to current events, and just plain interesting to anyone with their head up and eyes forward. Here’s a snapshot of topics on today’s homepage alone: ecommerce revenue, hurricane season, demographic and economic profiles of electorates by state, education revenue, and public welfare spending in western states.

For Enolytics’ data model, U.S. census data does what it does – studies the American people and economy – but within the context of wine. Our interest is in what the data indicates about demographics, particularly age and geography, down even to the level of individual zip codes.

When so much of the wine-related data today is also geolocated, it helps tremendously to overlay our wine data sets onto census data sets. Here’s an example.

We prepared the Wine O’Clock report to study WHEN consumers were most engaged with mobile wine content. Since the data is geolocated, we also segmented the WHEN study by market location, and learned that Wine O’Clock in San Francisco, say, is different than Wine O’Clock in Chicago or New York.

We could then “zoom in” to specific neighborhoods within those specific markets. Using census data, we could also know the median age range and median income levels of residents within a zip code.

A wine company’s outreach to an audience they know to be mainly comprised of the Baby Boomer demographic will be different from its outreach to an audience they know to be mainly Millennials. Similarly, a wine company with a premium priced offering could tailor their communication to exactly their target audience at exactly the right time that audience is open to receiving it. A wine company that hosts lots of outdoor events could even correlate consumer behavior patterns to weather patterns.

It’s powerful information, certainly. It’s also driven in part by publicly available census data.

You’ve got to know how to access it and integrate it into other sources, which is where Enolytics’ data team and model come in. As we talk with more wine businesses, and listen to more of the questions that they need answered, we challenge the data more and more. We test its potential, and find new pathways to insights and knowledge that’s useful and applicable in the daily course of wine business.