No other aisle in the grocery store is more uniform than the wine section. Stacked nearly floor to ceiling are row after row of eerily similar wine bottles. In most stores, they are loosely organized by varietal and price. Buying wine is risky for most consumers.
So what triggers a consumer to purchase a new bottle of wine?
Wine buying consumers use a number of cues including brand name, label, position on shelf, and recommendations to help them reduce the possibility of a bad purchase(Lockshin and Rhodus 1993, Atkin and Johnson 2010).
But with Amazon’s new wine selections, the consumer buying dynamics will dramatically change. While some of the traditional wine buying triggers will still have some influence, consumers will instead look first at the user generated product reviews on Amazon before committing to the online purchase.
According to a new study from Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and insights into what consumers watch and buy, online consumer reviews are the second (behind recommendations from family and friends) most trusted form of advertising with 70 percent of global consumers surveyed online indicating they trust this platform, an increase of 15 percent in four years.
Although there are other established online wine buying sites such as Lot18 and Wine.com, Amazon has built a trustworthy purchasing platform visited by more than 80 million monthly consumers. Amazon wine has the potential to become a gateway for consumers to gain confidence buying wine online that could have a halo effect for other wine etailers. (via Forbes) Newly empowered consumers may venture to other wine websites to look for more variety such as on Wine.com and to Lot 18 for hard to find small lot productions.
When consumers are in a grocery store at the point of purchase, they don’t have the benefit of dozens of reviews on each bottle to compare and contrast. But on Amazon, they will. The user-generated reviews will help the consumer choose and those wines with the best and most reviews will follow the trajectory of other packaged products on Amazon to become top sellers.
According to recent data from Bazaarvoice, 84 percent of Millennials and 70 percent of Boomers say user-generated content has at least some influence on what they buy. If Amazon can translate its existing trust to the wine category, purchasing wine online may eventually be the preferred buying method for consumers.
The packaging contraints on wine labels provide little opportunity for differentiation and from the consumer’s point of view, it is a leap of faith when opting to purchase a never before tasted bottle. Customer reviews and Amazon’s reputation as a trustworthy platform have the opportunity to reduce the risk when purchasing wine online.
Photo Credits: Chris Gray