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Passion, Champagne and, er, Supermarkets

A while back I looked at NetBase and its wine social media research software. In short it’s all about finding sentiment insights.

These social media research (netnography) software people have been busy recently and posted some interesting netnography research. I’m going to go through them here and look for insights for wine retailers.

French Champagne and Social Media

The first NetBase post is called Brand Passion Index: Piper’s Bubbles Burst with Love

Champagne Brand Passion Index

Netbase on Champagne
The amount of chatter about a brand is indicated by the size of the bubble, while the placement of the bubble shows the intensity of passion. Source: NetBase

Given these are well known French champagne brands I guess its no surprise that they are liked (top half of the graph). But only a few are passionately loved. In particular, Piper-Heidsieck. Here’s how NetBase puts it,

“Piper-Heidsieck who generated the most amount of love chatter. Metrics in NetBase showed that consumers love the extravagance, the romance of it being a favorite of Marie-Antoinette, combined with its affordability. Piper is a champagne with a long history of 225 years.”

Remember that’s from a consumer point of view and reminds me of the adage that a brand only exists in a consumers mind. Everything else is just graphic design.

It’s interesting that Dom Perignon is regarded as boring! Time for a new brand manager in the US I reckon, how could you let Dom Perignon become seen as boring!?

Jay-Z watchCristal’s boss apparently made a tactless remark which accounts for the poor net sentiment. Jay-Z (hip hop artist whose rap includes, “Let’s sip the Cris and get pissy-pissy“) apparently heard that his attention was unwelcome, called it racist, and when a celeb says a brand is racist then it’s doomed. The fact that it hasn’t bottomed out in the Hate section of the Brand Passion Index is probably due to the wording of the comments.

The Wine Story

The key to me is the importance of the wine story. I can see someone trading up from a cheap sparkling wine to Piper-Heidsieck based on a yarn about Marie-Antoinette. They could take that story to a dinner table.

Jay-Z Friends before Concert

Jay-Z's friends

It would be a brave person to take a bottle of Cristal when Jay-Z was suggesting it was a racist’s brand.



The other netnography I wanted to look at was a series about Supermarkets. I’ve already gone through a NetBase demo about Wine Stores as described in this post.

No surprise that the key factors were:

  • Selection
  • Price
  • Service.

This is also the case with Supermarkets

Except Store Brands were a much bigger issue than service.

The NetBase post that summarizes the Supermarket series is probably the best one to start with.

Store brands are such a big issue because they’ve been pushing out national brands (sound familiar?). Some people are loving the store brands (Trader Joe’s), others are very frustrated that they can’t find their favorites any longer.

Sidenote: Often there is social media chatter that directly contradicts itself reminding market researchers that they really are just aggregating individuals opinions, not describing absolute facts.

Here’s what NetNase says about a Recipe for The Ideal Supermarket,

“So what does the ideal supermarket look like? In a nutshell, it offers high-quality store brands that are priced below nationally advertised brands but the same or lower than store brands at other supermarkets. It stocks its store brands in addition to—not in place of—the national brands. And it offers a wide selection of products, being careful not to run out of common products, which annoys shoppers and forces them to go elsewhere for basic purchases.”

Coupons are a huge deal as is comparatively low pricing – no surprise there.

One last area that Publix and Safeway did well in was take-out food. Though Safeway had a regular stock-out issue.

There was not much chatter about supermarkets and wine, though there was a bit about beer. Which I think is good news for small wine stores, though perhaps not so good for the wine category as a whole.


If you are going to offer your own brand (which I think is a good idea in a market of bulk wine oversupply) then make sure that it’s value for money. Especially if you let it be known as your own brand. Unless you’re a discounter, in which case what are you reading this blog for?

What’s your thoughts?

Photos courtesy of: jay z watch, and Jay-Z Convert

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