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Who are fine wine buyers listening to?

Fine wine traders Wine Owners have looked into who fine wine buyers listen to and how they gather opinion before splashing out – or not – on  fine wine purchases.

Teaming up with Spiral Cellars and using data supplied by Effective research, the Wine Owners report shows that consumers use multiple recommendation sources with a bias towards online research but that even the advice of a single merchant or broker remains an important factor.

The report was based on a questionnaire survey of 244 people, all Wine Owners members. Forty per cent spend at least £5,000 per year on fine wine, 15% around £25,000. one hundred and five said they bought only to drink, while 76 said they bought to drink but counted part of their cellar as a potential investment.

When asked where they went to get opinion on wines they were interested in, 45.9% said they do their own research online – usually though free access websites, another 44.1% take the recommendations of several merchants and/or brokers.

Forty-one per cent said they also use wine critic subscription sites and newsletters, 37.8% relied on recommendations from friends, 32% used newspaper of magazine articles and a fairly sizeable 29.3% said the word of a single trusted merchant was still enough to persuade them to make a purchase.

As for who fine wine buyers are listening to from the world of critics (see main image), despite being in his twilight years according to many, 56% of respondents said a good word from Robert Parker would be enough to make them buy a wine, while another 49% said they relied on Jancis Robinson MW and 29% said Neal Martin influenced their decision.

Nick Martin, founder of Wine Owners, told the drinks business that the results were “relatively predictable” but also: “What does stand out is that, clearly, the whole online and social media impact is growing and clearly people take recommendations from a number of different sources.”

Of the top influencers he said it was, “great to see Neal up there,” and while it wasn’t “hugely surprising” to see who the top two were, “some have noted that it’s interesting that [James] Suckling’s not there.”


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