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I comment on someone else’s comments on his own predictions

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I came across Tim Elliott’s blog recently, when he revisited (on Jan. 1) his wine predictions for 2010, made a year ago, to see how he’d done. As it turns out, he got, in his words, “2 right and 3 wrong; about par for this sort of thing here.”

As I read through his predictions, all kinds of thoughts went through my head, so I thought I’d compile them into today’s blog.

Tim’s prediction #1: The Return of the Luxury Wine Segment. Tim counted this as a partial “right” because “2010 did see some growth in this [over-$35] segment.” That is correct, but I don’t see anything resembling a “return,” if by “return” you mean the craziness of the early and mid 2000s, when a deaf, dumb and blind monkey could put out a $100 Napa Cab and have the cult crowd chasing after it (especially if it was made by the “right” short list of consulting winemakers). I still hear too many rumors and see too much anecdotal evidence of severe struggling at the luxury level (and if I were a mean person, I’d name names). However, if you look beyond the U.S. to China, then, yes, the luxury wine segment is healthy–as long as it’s First Growth Bordeaux. But then, in China it’s not a “return” because you can’t return to someplace you’ve never been.

Tim’s prediction #2: Wineries Integrate Social Media Marketing. Tim gave himself another “right” on this one, although he did allow as to how “it is still early days before social media marketing truly goes mainstream in the wine industry.” I’ll give him a pass on this one. The big question is, of course, how you define “integrate.” If a winery starts an infrequently-updated blog, and Facebooks every so often, is that an “integrated” strategy? What does an integrated strategy look like, and where is the line between spending enough time at social media, versus too much time, which is a waste of time?

Tim’s prediction #3: Wineries Will Go Mobile. Tim gives himself a “wrong” on this one, but predicts that 2011 will be “the year of the tablet.” Here’s my question: what does this mean? Assuming the iPad remains big, with a lot of copycat clones coming out this year, what will wineries do with that? If I’m a winery marketing manager, how do I use this trend to promote my winery or move product? Can a tablet be successfully utilized as a point of sale device? Maybe someone can explain this to me.

Tim’s prediction #4: Wine Bloggers Will Discover Business Models. Tim calls this a miss on his part, and I agree. If there’s anybody out there in the wine blogosphere who’s discovered a business model, it’s news to me. I’ve been consistently pessimistic on this, and I don’t expect to see it in 2011, although my caveat remains what it’s always been: famous wine bloggers will use their blogs as platforms  to make money through other means, such as public speaking, wine education, book deals and getting hired by paper publications. Which brings me to our next entry.

Tim’s prediction #5: A Major Wine Print Publication Will Fold. Another wah-wah for Tim. “…no major wine publication closed it’s doors in 2010 so this one is a big miss,” he wrote. He could have saved himself this miss if he’d called me last year. I would have assured him no major wine magazine would fold in 2010. Or in 2011. The majors will continue their push online, but that doesn’t mean they’ll abandon their paper pubs, for now.

What, you think I’m going to issue predictions for 2011 that will be embarrassingly refudiatable next year? You have got to be kidding. No, wait, here’s one. I’ll still be here, blogging.

  1. lori narlock says:

    These are almost all broad predictions. I wonder how Tim would have done if he’d been more specific. For example: Fosters will change its name. Constellation will sell off at least one wine division, etc. Either way, trying to predict the future is an ambitious endeavor.

  2. I predict that the future will arrive.

  3. Steve – we use our iPad to do POS at offsite events with great success. Also, no more filling out Join Our Mailing List forms. That’s done online with the guest standing right there. There’s also an interesting org called Vin65 that produces an app for the iPad for restaurant wine lists. Diners can see labels, descriptions and other cool data before making a selection or asking the Somm for a recommendation.

  4. Steve, that’s the funny thing. The future has just arrived.

    Oh, wait, it just happened again.

    And again.

  5. Sorry, Steve isn’t here now, Charlie. Leave a message at the sound of the beep.

  6. Ed thralls says:

    I agree with Kathy and another good example is the Drink Nectar tasting room in Spokane that Josh Wade just opened. The software remembers preferences for return customers to make for easier purchasing next time. Also, software exists to help the production side to be more efficient and and iPad allows staff to be more mobile, updating metrics at tanks, barrels, vineyard.

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