“Just Google It” has become the “cure all” answer for the modern American. On average, there are over 100 billion Google searches per month. When Google suffered a five minute blackout in mid-2013 worldwide web traffic allegedly dipped 40 percent. This means that at that moment two out of every five people in the world were using Google or a Google product (Gmail, Google Drive, etc).
It is estimated that 64 percent of web traffic comes from organic searches (those not boosted by paid advertising). People know how to Google, and they know exactly what to Google.
In any industry molded mostly to consumer wants and needs a great place to start when looking to better a product or service is by getting as close to the bone as possible. In this case, that is by accessing consumer search data. In particular, Google Trends reveals some interesting data on the questions and comments American consumers have on buying and consuming wine today:
Consistently since the mid 2000’s, search data shows that American consumers have been more and more invested in what they eat and drink. This is in part due to the strengthening of outreach opportunities for restaurants and cuisines via online and media platforms (think Eater and Instagram. Wow, those poke bowls look great!). This may also be in part due to heightened access to information on health and the benefits of mindful eating. Eating healthy is all the rage, and wine drinkers want to feel just as good about drinking wine as they feel after a cup of the good stuff.
When you begin to Google a question that starts with “is wine”, the four top searches are (get this…):
Woah, where is this non-vegan wine, and can I please buy it?
Each of these health-focused searches (when examined over time on Google Trends) grew exponentially in popularity in recent years and are more commonly searched now than ever before. Apparently, either health fanatics are just now starting to enjoy some vino, or regular wine-ohs are catching on to these health trends.
Across the nation, wine consumers are extremely interested in hearing about how healthy their consumption choices may or may not be. Many common wine searches are about calories, so we can reason that consumers may be more concerned about wine "health" as it relates to the waistline, and not to the heart, mind, etc.
Screw caps. Boxed wine. Wine on tap. There are so many more mediums for transporting wine to glass than the common 750ml bottle (although… nothing comes close to rivaling in popularity. Read more on this in the latest in a series of Rants from Wine Hooligans). With so many options, naturally consumers may be a little confused, and they are heading to the search bar for answers.
New wine drinkers are asking questions that they could otherwise answer themselves down the line after experiencing the outcome. “Does wine go bad” and “Should wine be refrigerated” are big hitter questions that the buyer was probably too nervous to ask a wine seller. Unfortunately, unlike with a carton of milk, wine does not come with a “refrigerate after opening” alert.
Unfortunately, not even the top authorities on wine seem to be able to answer these questions. The proper storage of wine, as with all perishable items, is dependent on how long you want that item to last. So, keeping a bottle fresh for one day may be a different process than keeping a bottle fresh for three days.
Outside of the major winter holidays consumers are not searching for wine pairings as often as wine/lifestyle writers and bloggers seem to think they are. There are countless articles on the “best wine pairings” with seasonal vegetables, the hottest fish of the year, and vegan/Paleo diets, but recent data on such searches shows us people aren’t really looking for the advice. As a young wine drinker myself, I can see the benefit in asking a sommelier or bar manager what best goes with a meal at a restaurant, but these blog posts and listicles (an article featuring multiple items formatted in a numbered or bulleted list) often do little for the imagination.
Now, with the return of every.single.holiday.season searches like “what wine goes with turkey, ham, etc.” soar off the charts. If there is ever a proper time for a wine pairing listicle, early November to late December is the best time to share (and shortly before Easter). Makes sense given the majority of wine sales are in November and December every year.
Times are changing, as are the leading wine drinkers. It was recently reported that Millennials drink the majority of wine across the nation (42 percent of all wine in 2015), and Lord knows that this generation likes to switch it up (be it wine, restaurants, forms of communication, or anything else). With these changes come a whole new round of questions, and it is important to keep up with what is being asked so we can know how to answer.
These wine drinkers may not be informed, but they are smart. They have criteria and want it to be met, knowing that if something doesn’t meet their standards something will come along that does. Looking at such data can give members of the wine industry and media a leg up in understanding these needs.
As great as wine is today (and forever has been), there will always be room for improvement.
All the Swirl is a collections of thoughts and opinions assembled by the staff and industry friends of Charles Communications Associates, a marketing communications firm with its headquarters in San Francisco, California. We invite you to explore more about our company and clients by visiting www.charlescomm.com.