We gladly took the opportunity to choose an unfamiliar wine in order to explore our collective analytical, visualization and branding abilities and learn something in the process.

Why did we pick Bardolino Classico?  Because it is somewhat of an odd wine in marketing sense and it could use some help, at least here in the U.S.    Also, the region it comes from is just short of magical.  Bardolino, the city, rests against the south eastern shores of Lago di Garda and gently fades into the misty hillside behind it. Breathtaking mountains, beautiful villas and most of all, the mild climate that the lake guarantees make for a very ideal and picturesque wine growing region.

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The actual winery locations of the selected Bardolino’s

Bardolino Classico has a sister and a cousin who share the same basic grapes (I realize that is not proper enological speak, but it does paint the picture). The Sister is Valpolicella who is just a bit further Eastward in the hills above Verona and has steadily risen in stock over the years, and then there is the affluent cousin Amarone who won’t even talk to Bardolino because it can’t be seen socializing with such a common wine.

Although there are many choices of Bardolino Classico and Superiore, we only selected Bardolino’s that we could find by walking into the better New York City wine stores, no special orders, and, as it turns out, we could not find that many.  Hence our first observation:  although Bardolino Classico is ubiquitous in its home region in Italy to the point that its almost showered onto tourist, it has a surprisingly low presence in a major wine thirsty market like New York City.

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the selected Bardolino’s

Our investigation is not really an enological one, but rather a digital exploration.  What is Bardolino’s footprint digitally speaking?  Using just publicly available information we were able to paint a picture of where Bardolino, the wine, stood in the digital world.  The most obvious observation is that a search for “Bardolino” reveals almost exclusively resort and vacations returns.  The seasonal patterns seen in fig.2 reveals that there is a spike in search for “Bardolino” around the middle of summer and that a more specific search for “Bardolino Classico”, “Bardolino Superiore” or “Bardolino Chiaretto” is almost too low to even register.  Furthermore the search origin for “Bardolino” is almost all from Italy and Germany.

Another interesting observation is a steady decline over the years in interest for “Italian Wines” which correlates with known data that Europeans are drinking less wine (perhaps attributable to the rise in beer’s popularity amongst the youth or the disappearing age old tradition of the sit down lunch with a bottle of wine).

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Trend search for Bardolino

Let’s compare the same digital footprint with another wine (Fig. 3), somewhat similar in quality, but with a completely different market penetration – Yellow Tail from Australia.

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Trend search for Yellow Tail

The comparison between Bardolino and Yellow Tail reveals two extremes of digital presence on the internet, simply put one exists and the other does not.  To truly understand why that is would require a more in-depth analysis; nevertheless we can safely make a few assumptions:

  1. Yellow Tail is one entity, not a collective of places or vineyards.
  2. Similarly, Yellow Tail is a carefully crafted Brand, unified in product, marketing, advertising and distribution.
  3. When searching for Bardolino wine, it is hard to tell if the result is a wine, vineyard, distributor or consortium.
  4. Ultimately Borodino’s biggest challenge is that its corresponds to tourism primeraly and only secondarily to wine.

When we add the social media component to our research, which is just as important as any search engine research, we find a few more telling bits of information.  Using the publically available site socialmention.com which searches all social sites (blogs, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, YouTube, etc.) for specific content, we discovered that Bardolino wines is not really talked about that much (fig. 3).

Web

Fig. 3

“Bardolino” by itself is quite common, it will get mentioned somewhere in the social media universe at least once every 25 minutes,  but when you are looking for “Bardolino wine” it only gets mentioned once a day.  For comparison purposes we looked up “Valpolicella wine” which gets mentioned roughly 24 times more per day than “Bardolino wines”.  One does not know if those are positive or good mentions, however following the old axiom that any publicity is good publicity, Valpolicella seems to have a digital advantage over Bardolino in this case.

When you consider that wines are mostly driven by consumer perception, (the label, the packaging, and the cost, among other things), it is vital that they can be seen and talked about.  Unfortunately, no matter how good a wine is, or any product for that matter, if it cannot be seen it simply does not exist to the online market.

The careful construction of a Social Media strategy and search engine optimization for Bardolino seems to be the obvious answer.  The more difficult answer is how to unify Bardolino wines as a brand that leverages the varied wineries and can stand on its own to Bardolino’s tourist appeal.

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