“Taste & Tweet”a Twitter success in the UK

I was really intrigued the other week when “winebeerexpress” started to flare on TwitScoop. A quick click and I am in the middle of the first wine tasting via Twitter in the UK.  For me the challenge for marketers has been to find a successful commercial model for this new social media phenomenon. With such interest in the highly addictive communication tool, this UK company has developed a commercial application which may prove to be highly profitable.


WineBeerExpress (WBE) is an online alcohol retailer in the UK that was started about 4 months ago with the belief that wine and beer appreciation was a natural fit with the growing social media environment in that market. The owners believed that this was one industry that could leverage the formation of communities and the growing presence of clever platforms like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. According to Julie Campbell, Marketing Director at WBE, “wine and beer appreciation lends itself to discussion through online forums like blogs. We decided to build our business pretty much using social media as the mainstay of our communications strategy.”


Last week, Julie and her team pioneered the first Taste and Tweet @winebeerexpress in the UK using a base of 40 “friends and family” to test the concept and give the back room systems a good workout. Each participant was sent a launch kit which included a selected bottle of red and white wine, some instructions and some basic tasting notes. They were invited to sit down to dinner in the venue of their choice be it home or a restaurant, switch on their phone or laptop and at a pre-determined time, start a conversation with a group of strangers about the wines. Julie said, “One of the great things about Twitter is the limit of 140 characters on each message. This means the comments are short, to the point and not dominated by one individual”. This meant the conversation was diverse and not only included traditional taste comments but because she deliberately chose one wine with a screw cap and one with cork, they even got into the debate around different wine closures.


“The other interesting outcome,” according to Campbell, “was that because it was in individual groups, there was a wide range of food being consumed and people chose to comment on that as well”. Although only a small scale test, it soon doubled in size as other Twitter users saw “winebeerexpress” starting to scale in the cloud on Tweetdeck and other Twitter activity monitors. “We had people from all over the world by the end of the event and saw a significant increase in online registrations after the event”.


The next event is scheduled for 19 March (UK) and WBE will begin a seeding campaign using email, Twitter and website over the next few weeks to build interest and registration beforehand. Participants will be able to purchase the wine online before the event and the site will feature tasting notes and instructions. While not the first wine tasting event in the world (there has been one running for a few months in the US) the team at WBE are looking forward to this becoming a regular part of their marketing plans. It certainly is a clever commercialisation of Twitter without compromising the importance of the community nature of social media. I imagine we will see it on these shores in the not too distant future.


What do you think?


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