A confluence of factors has led to my landing in London, not one week after getting back from an extended holiday in the States. Meetings and future event planning all made for a trip that without a single landmark event, has allowed me to enjoy a few days of sightseeing and tastings. This opportunity has even afforded me the opportunity to attend Bibendum’s annual tasting at the amazing Saatchi Gallery in London.
I had heard about the event prior, and almost made it last year, but didn’t regret my inability to attend. But let’s be clear, the event is worth attending! Bibendum is one of the largest importers of fine wines in the UK and their annual event is reportedly the second biggest event in London for wine, right behind the London International Wine Fair. With over 4000 RSVP’d guests, the event can make some rather large claims.
What’s key to take note is not the tasting, but that this very mainstream and well respected wine importer, distributor, and online retailer has fully embraced social media; though they may still wonder what they have gotten themselves into. With the help of A&N Media, Bibendum has recently launched The Bibendum Times.
What is the Bibendum times you ask? Well depending on who you ask, you receive may receive a different answer. But at its root, The Bibendum Times is a virtual space where content about the wine world is being communicated with a team of bloggers and Bibendum employees.
Comprised of travel photos, wine tastings, food tasting notes, the site has the potential to be a hub for not only Bibendum’s customers, mainly the retail and restaurant trade, but also by extension, their customer’s customers. Social media is about creating an environment where people congregate to converse. What I find interesting is that Bibendum is willing to spend a signifiacant chunk of cash in order to create content whose audience is not necessarily defined yet. Social media can provide content for a hungry audience, and with access to fine wines and wine stories, Bibendum is able to create a destination – a destination for wine lovers can learn, explore and communicate.
The site has almost the perfect storm needed to create a destination for wine lovers: design, content and solid wine knowledge. The question is, are the retailers and restrauntuers able to see the value in what their wine provider has created? I would hope so. Retailers have been given a community hand made for them to use to cultivate sales. Smart retail shops would make sure that information is given to customers at each purchase “To learn more and to tell us what you think…” or something similar.
The one element missing, however, is the interaction aspect. Yes you can send a twitter message ,or comment on a post, but Bibendum is a wine portal, and they should be soliciting feedback about the wines. This one simple step would make this site a step towards total customer engagement. I feel they maybe headed that way, but it’s a significant gap in the overall value of the site. In the end, the site does not benefit from the full “stickiness” factor that would be possible with a bit more interactivity.
But let’s be clear, from my perspective, this is the first time an importer/distributor is engaging the public in a fully social way. Having talked to and received feedback from several of the Bibendum employees, they truly hope this initiative will be picked up by both their customers in the form of social campaigns from restaurants and stores, as well as by their winery clients. When I inquired on how many wineries have been active in the project, only 2 or 3 were reported. As far as retailers and restaurants, the answer was a bit higher, but there’s still ample amount of room for growth.
The industry is changing. This we know. Bibendum may not know exactly what tomorrow will hold, but they know that they need to adapt; and rather than waiting to find out what they missed, they’re helping to create tomorrow’s wine culture. Bravo.
Enjoy the short video with Gal Zohar who is the Annual Tasting and PR manager.
A quick interview with Gal Zohar of Bibendum wines about the role of social media at their annual tasting.