When I started working in e-commerce marketing in 2011, I was a bit skeptical about whether reviews, stars, and awards actually mattered both to consumers and to retail sales. After years in the business, studying countless retailers, interviewing thousands of consumers, and analyzing billions of data points, I can explicitly say YES they matter a lot.
Data from consumer surveys and from underlying sales data clearly show that the more social recognition a product or a brand has, the more consumers like that brand and the more they purchase their products. At its rawest most basic level, humans have evolved to follow the group. There is safety in the group and if all of my friends tell me this product is great, then I feel much more confident about purchasing that product. The same goes for trying a new restaurant or traveling to a new place. Have your heard of FOMO? (The Fear of Missing Out). Reviews, ratings, expert reviews, awards, testimonials, and blog recommendations are all social proof and help us build a picture of that product in our mind so that we can feel confident in purchasing it.
Now let's focus specifically on wine competitions and gold medals. Not only do they help give us confidence that a wine is of good quality, but these award competitions also help raise awareness that a wine or winery even exists. These competitions are typically followed by press releases, magazine articles and social media. As a new small wine brand, I can attest that when one of our wines wins a Gold medal, we get many new followers on social media, new reservations for wine tastings, and new online sales of that wine.
So as wine consumers, should we pay attention to wine competitions and wine awards? Are the wines that win these competitions worth trying? Yes, I think so. International wine competitions enlist groups of volunteer wine professionals to "blind taste" the wines and rate them based on a well defined set of criteria. There is no incentive on their part to be misleading and often they are overly critical of the wines because they have a personal reputation as a wine connoisseur. So if a wine receives a Gold or Double Gold or Best in Class medal at one of these competitions, it is likely a very good wine worth trying.
By no means are awards and competitions the be all end all of how you should purchase wine, but they form an important part of the social proof that we need to feel confident in trying a new wine. There is so much new wine out there in the world today that it is impossible to try it all, so let the reviews and awards help guide you and help you feel confident in discovering and trying a new wine. Cheers!🥇🍷