Tech and the Wine Industry

On a daily basis, we are exposed to headlines about how technology is negatively impacting our world. The reality is that bad news sells and great news does not. However, there is clear evidence to indicate that technology, when used properly, can enable positive changes that deserve to be recognized. We often hear about how the music and book industries, each of which is worth roughly $130 billion globally, have been disrupted by technology. But there is another industry that is rarely mentioned but is also going through a tech transformation.

Wine is a $300 billion industry, and up to now, only a small number of start-ups are making big waves in this market area. Vivino enables users to scan any bottle of wine and instantly retrieve user reviews, average ratings and cost for the bottle, together with other essential information to help them choose the perfect bottle. Lest you think this is just a gimmick to get a very small niche market, a fast look under the hood shows that this wine-loving community is 17 million strong. The smartphone program also receives 100,000 new evaluations daily compared to only 20,000 each year on more traditional wine score places.

When looking at the long wall of wines at a supermarket or at a vineyard in the Yarra Valley, you might be forgiven for believing that we have become disconnected with the world around us. There is also a growing awareness that we have very little understanding about where some of the goods in a shop come from. Naked Wines is an online wine club, which aims to change all that. This company built its success around crowd funding before it was even a thing. Clients, known as “Angels,” put $20 per month in their digital piggy banks to invest on exclusive wines at reasonable prices. The actual beauty of Naked Wines is that each and every bottle offered has an individual story behind it. There is also a section on the site where you are able to see who left the bottle, you are going to enjoy with your meal on a Friday night.

This online community also encourages its members to talk with and follow different clients, or even different winemakers from all over the globe including wineries in the Yarra Valley, to create connections in the industry. With more than 100 million in earnings over the last year, it would seem that this coverage is fantastic for business, also. Both of these success stories from a very traditional business illustrate the positive impact technology is delivering. In a world that all too frequently concentrates on the negative, I wanted to share these stories to demonstrate the positive effect a knowledge-sharing community of interest can have on a worldwide level.

Shoppers are beginning to tire of buying mass-produced products from faceless corporations. Technology is now linking consumers and businesses throughout the planet to once again create a meaningful relationship that was once lost. Focus on rivalry has always been a formula for mediocrity, and thankfully, this is something in which both Naked Wines and Vivino have averted. Using technology to redefine and reinvent areas of the traditional business, these companies have produced meaningful and beneficial connections, in addition to accelerated sales. Next time you see someone staring down in a smartphone, bear in mind that he or she is not completely disconnected from the world. Many such individuals are communicating with other people all around the world, sharing, creating, playing and learning. When used to connect individuals, technology can have a positive effect on a global level.