First insights on Social Media Usage by the Ontario Wine Industry (2)

This is the second post of a series dedicated to a research conducted by Gerry Davies on behalf of Vineland Research and Innovation Centre. The main objective was to portray the usage and perspectives of Social Media marketing by Ontario wineries. While the first post gave an overview of the Ontario landscape versus the rest of the world, this post focuses on the findings from a quantitative research conducted online survey and administered in February/ March 2011 to Ontario Wineries with the help of the Wine Council of Ontario and other professional networks.

Of the 130 wineries we reached out to, we received 65 responses — a response rate of 50%, which is considered historically high for Ontario winery surveys.

While we did receive 65 responses to the survey request, not all wineries answered every question, especially the more detailed enquiries regarding types of posts, goals, perceived effectiveness, and target markets. In those cases, we analyzed and averaged the responses we had, and made a note if the response level was very low.

Where possible, we followed up on these subjects in our interviews and added our findings to the survey data.

Wineries varied in age from less than one year old, to 37 years, production by case ranged from just over 100 to over 70,000 cases per year, and the number of employees varied from zero to 120. The majority of our responses were from Niagara wineries, although over one fifth came from Prince Edward County — unfortunately, we only received four responses from the Lake Erie North Shore/Pelee Island appellations. We are aware of two “virtual” wineries among our respondents. Here are the averages:

  • Winery Age:       12 years
  • Cases/Year:       9690
  • Employees:        22.5
  • Winery location:
    72% Niagara
    22% Prince Edward County
    6% Lake Erie North Shore

What we have learned in brief:

  •  Ontario wineries have almost universally adopted social media (SM). Even among those who had not, the majority stated that they intended to.
  •  Facebook is by far the most popular platform, with Twitter second, and YouTube, LinkedIn and winery blogs all roughly tied for third.
  • Most wineries have been active in SM for 2 years or less
  •  Most wineries spend a maximum of 5 hours per week on their Facebook and Twitter pages (each).
  • Management of a winery’s social media presence is roughly divided between winery owners, marketing staff, and other employees who do it along with other daily tasks
  • Most wineries dedicate a maximum of one quarter of their marketing and communications resources to SM; however, over half expect that level to increase in the future.
  • Content posted by wineries varies widely, with local events, food pairings, and re-posts of articles about the winery among the most popular topics selected.
  • Goals of a winery’s SM program also vary widely, with creating dialogue with customers, increasing sales, and driving potential customers to their website/email list among the most popular selected from our list.
  •  Approximately one third of respondents have some system in place to measure the effectiveness of their SM campaign. Among the two thirds who don’t,  most believed that SM had “some” effect on most of the various areas of business we listed
  •  The majority of our respondents monitor their brand online, and almost all of these respond to online comments to varying degrees.
  •  Target demographic groups vary widely between wineries, with age 55+ being the top segment selected as a winery’s primary SM target.

This last point was quite surprising knowing that SM has been mainly embraced by Gen Yers and Gen Xers. Indeed, statistics indicate that, when it comes to Facebook, roughly half their users globally are under 35, while the 35+ group comprised roughly one quarter (the last roughly 25% were in the 13-17 range).
Reliable Twitter statistics are notoriously difficult to obtain, however, the most recent demographic information indicates that 45% of Twitter users are under 35, 24% are 35-49, and 14% are over 55.
There is still a lot of debate over which age group’s adoption levels are growing the fastest (with the 50+ cohort often named as the next “wave” in SM adopters), but it should be noted that, given that most SM platforms were first adopted by younger people, those age groups may have reached saturation levels, leaving the older demographics the only group with significant room to grow. Questions also remain over how these older groups approach and use SM compared to younger users.

Do you think there is  a discrepancy between the winery target market and their approach to SM? What is your strategy?


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