Sorry, Paul, 280 characters weren’t enough

Friends giving a high-five on a bus

Last week, Paul Mabray published an article entitled, “The Wine Industry Doesn’t Have An Education Problem, We Have An Engagement Problem,” which you can find here. Anyone who’s been reading The Must Read for a while knows that this debate is one I’m very passionate about, so when Paul asked for me to chime in with an opinion I was a) more than happy to do so, and b) too verbose to do it on Twitter.

Now, Paul’s a data whiz, and his article brings together numbers and statistics to paint a picture of WHY the wine industry must prioritize engagement over education as consumer behaviors evolve. I’m a marketer, and I therefore I want to jump in with HOW we can get this ball rolling. In deference to the inspiration, I have made pretty charts, too 🙂

First, the pyramid. While I understand that pyramids and funnels are both great for demonstrating diminishing numbers, I have always found them value-laden. There is a hierarchy to the top of the pyramid, and if there is one thing I preach, it’s that we’ve got to STOP glorifying elitist tastes as a measure of worth to the industry. We need all consumers, not just the fancy ones. My first step is simple ↩️:

With that done, we can review our potential customers on equal ground.

The next step to driving engagement is turning those data points into real people, a process called Persona Building. (I’ve recently talked about this at length so I won’t go into detail today) Suffice it to say that each brand, app, and experience will have their own personas who represent levels of engagement; a brand must move beyond generalizations and invest time in building near-tangible profiles of their key customers.

The pyramid is now a pathway populated by people. Great! All that persona building is going to come in handy because pathways are fluid, with people moving in unsteady, sometimes unexpected ways. When we talk in terms of data points and statistics, it’s easy to forget that every record is a person with choice: they can choose to move forward, to the next level of wine interest; they may choose to stay exactly where they are, happily drinking the same favorites forever; they may choose to go backwards, if they lose time, interest, or money; or (the one I think we often overlook), they can exit the path entirely.

How might we begin to hypothesize about where wine-lovers are in their journeys and the value we provide? HUGE question, and certainly more than my Sundays can allow. BUT, here is possibly the best starting point I can give you: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. I prefer to use the Expanded version as I think the additions have great applicability to wine lovers, and they definitely apply to Paul’s research data.

Here’s the breakdown:

Biological and physiological needs: air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sex, sleep, etc.
Safety needs: protection from elements, security, order, law, stability, etc.
(We skip those two because they’d be dark marketing in our industry.)

Love and belongingness needs: friendship, intimacy, trust, and acceptance, receiving and giving affection and love. Affiliating, being part of a group (family, friends, work).

Esteem needs: (i) esteem for oneself (dignity, achievement, mastery, independence); (ii) the desire for reputation or respect from others (e.g., status, prestige).

Cognitive needs: knowledge and understanding, curiosity, exploration, need for meaning and predictability.

Aesthetic needs: appreciation and search for beauty, balance, form, etc.

Self-actualization needs: realizing personal potential, self-fulfilment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences.

Transcendence needs: motivated by values which transcend beyond the personal self (e.g., mystical experiences and certain experiences with nature, aesthetic experiences, sexual experiences, service to others, the pursuit of science, religious faith, etc.).

In overlaying Paul’s personas on Maslow’s extended pyramid, we begin to understand the kind of value a brand must provide to a consumer who has made the choice to move to the next “forward” level. What do they REALLY seek? A sense of achievement, public kudos, discovery, beauty, even realizing our own potential. These insights, paired with our well-developed personas, allow us to speak directly to our customer’s needs. And that’s mighty powerful engagement.

Happy Sunday.

Portrait of Polly Hammond

Polly Hammond

Polly Hammond is a dynamic speaker, podcaster, and consultant, and founder of forests. She helps businesses build and implement robust strategies that drive measurable growth.