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Making Big Data Work for Wine


“Data doesn’t always tell the truth,” said Paul Mabray, CEO of Emetry in his opening remarks of the Wine Industry Data Summit, setting the tone for an inspirational series of talks about the challenges and opportunities the wine industry faces for using data to better understand and engage wine consumers in an effective and purposeful way.

Today’s digital world is filled with massive amounts of data, but it can easily be misleading if the context isn’t understood, useless if it isn’t stored in an accessible way, and meaningless if it isn’t segmented well.

Used well, however, data can tell us where consumers are, who they follow, who they influence, who influences them, and what media they consumer. All based on their activity or engagements. But this data can be hard to come by, and Mabray laments that “Wine doesn’t have an education problem, but an engagement problem.”

The vast majority of wine consumers have low or minimal engagement, but that engagement grows as they become more enthusiastic about wine. Emetry recently partnered with Delectable exactly because of the app’s high engagement of the middle tier consumer and the valuable data that entails. “As we looked at the landscape of wine data, no other platform has as relevant and meaningful data for wineries as Delectable. By analyzing the data, we can help wineries of all sizes make better data-driven decisions for their brands,” said Mabray.

“The Data is extremely valuable and provided by people you care about,” said Antonio Galloni, Vinous and Delectable CEO, who made a confidential presentation for the select, invitation only audience of the inaugural Wine Industry Data Summit.

Wineries will have access to Delectable’s data through Emetry’s platform. “Our database is structured to use the data for analysis, and what’s much more interesting than the simple demographics are the psychographic profiles defined by very specific usage patterns,” said Galloni and showcased how the data could be organized to identify six different consumer profiles.

These psychographic profiles can be a valuable tool to help wineries understand who their target customer is, where to reach them, and how to influence them.

Several summit speakers also emphasized that data based marketing is not just about getting access to big data from outside sources like Delectable, but about using the data you have in meaningful ways. “There are ways of building your data lake even if you’re a small company,” said Lauren Hougas, Marketing Analytics Director at Land O’Lakes, but warned to “make sure your data is usable and understandable and not just churning out reports.”

Hougas explained that at Land O’Lakes they’d gone through a mindshift, so that the data analyst’s goals had become the same as the marketeers. With the purpose of the data team no longer data for data’s sake, but to create meaningful and actionable datapoints, the approach to collecting and structuring the data changed, so that the marketeers could use the end reports to engage consumers with effectives, targeted campaigns.

White wine and red wine drinkers compared – click for full size.

Using data and analytics to gain market intelligence and a better understanding of consumer behavior is a high priority for many wine companies, but few have yet managed to get a good grasp on how to master it.

“Wineries always want one more report,” joked Andrew Kamphuis, Founder and President at Commerce7, as he pointed out the missed opportunities of wineries not utilizing data well. “We’re in the age of big data, but 39% rarely collect data, and 51% are unable to access the data they do have.”

“The traditional wine club is dying, but the subscription economy is thriving,” asserted Kamphuis, and wineries can use their data to make the transition and improve the customer experience online with personalized recommendation systems. He pointed to Constellation Brands as an example of the power of customization. When they changed their club to ‘user choice,’ the revenue went up 11%.

In addition to getting the data and keeping it clean from input errors and false information, a big challenge is combining it in meaningful ways. Felix Puetsch, Head of Analytics at Foursquare, provided examples of consumer profiles that correlated where they go and when, with what they like, which wineries could use reach their target consumer in the right place at the right time.

Foursquare achieved this by combining GPS location of mobile devices with the knowledge of what exists in the world and engagement data. Puetsch shared examples comparing the profiles of red to white wine drinkers and Champagne versus Prosecco drinkers, which shows differences that can be used to target each group specifically.

Nolan Gasser, Emetry co-founder, concluded the symposium by sharing from his experience as architect of the Music Genome Project at Pandora Radio, and how he created the classification system for music that allows Pandora to associate and correlate different pieces and forecast what a listener will enjoy. He concluded, “It’s not just about big data, it’s about smart data, and actionable data.”

By Kim Badenfort



  1. I have been in the Wine Business for over 25 years and have a deep passion and intimate knowledge having worked the front lines. I appreciate the depth of big data and the key is how to take the ‘actionable data’ and implement it to increase revenue, create products and experiences that not only enhance customers lifestyles, but educate and engage advocates that promote wine. In this way, you will see that data is only as good as the people behind it. Cheers!


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