What are the chances that two wineries, one in California and one in Washington, come up with an idea to crowdsource a wine and launch within a week of each other?
When I saw Columbia Crest launch their project earlier this week, I had a mixed reaction – part of me laughed and part of me wanted to pay attention. Then a few days later I noticed La Crema doing something very similar. My first impression was maybe there’s a business connection between the two. But here’s proof in this LA Times story that it appears to be a coincidence. Or maybe they hired the same marketing firm who’s keeping mum.
In my day job we use crowdsourcing for a few reasons – to learn something new from many individuals or get them to provide information we can’t gather on our own, and as a way to engage our audience. But in the world of marketing – especially social media marketing – its primary focus is on engagement.
Wineries are not going to learn something new from those participating – except their customer preferences (aka market research). But they will get customers to engage with their projects, learn about their wines and forge a personal connection to the winery. The outcome is an entire customer base when their new crowdsourced wine is in the bottle and ready for purchase.
It’s a smart marketing gimmick with a measurable ROI that can also help brand recognition. But I worry the old saying “too many cooks spoil the stew” may create something nearly undrinkable (or maybe they’ll get lucky). I just hope there are other strategies in place to convince customers their other bottles are worth purchasing if this one doesn’t turn out too well. Then again, enjoying a bottle of wine is always greatly enhanced when you have a personal connection or positive memory associated to it. In that case, maybe the actual quality isn’t as important.
In the meantime, the projects will be fun to watch. Maybe there’s enough of an audience out there not as cynical about marketing strategies as I can be.