Wine Influencers Inspire Strong Reactions. But What's The Harm In Being 'liked'?

Posted: Apr 07, 2021

What comes to mind when you hear the word “influencer”? A photogenic person sipping rosé in an infinity pool, maybe, or squinting heroically across a vineyard at dusk?

No matter who or what you picture, chances are you have a strong reaction. One wine publication went so far as to call them an “Incurable Plague” in a January 2021 headline. That article referenced a 2020 piece by wine critic Robert Joseph, titled, tellingly, “In Defence of Wine Influencers.” Not since natural wine has such a loosely defined concept become this divisive.

So, what does an influencer do, exactly? A 2019 Wired magazine article declared that the term is virtually meaningless, so “it is simultaneously an insult and an aspiration, the scourge of small business owners and the future of marketing.” In reality, influencers create social media content that aims to affect consumer spending. They get results, too. In 2018, 49% of consumers made purchases based on influencer marketing, according to the Digital Marketing Institute. Statista, a research-driven provider of market and consumer data, reported that the global Instagram influencer market doubled from 2018 to 2020.

For my #twocents, I think influencers are an underutilized asset in wine. They can help struggling brands reposition themselves, engage new consumers and diversify the wine business. While the industry wrings its hands over how to capture millennials’ and Generation Z’s dollars amid competition from craft beer, spirits and cannabis, it could only help to meet potential customers where they are: social media.

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