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Robert Parker, Primeur 2OO9 and eRobertParker.com

Guillaume Jourdan,
Brand awareness and improve brand image by building customized strategies for wine estates
France


WINE: From today, you will have to pay to get access to Robert Parker's wine discussion forum. Some of you may have received this e-mail: "On April 27, the entire Mark Squires' Bulletin Board on eRobertParker.com will become a subscriber-only forum, open only to subscribers of Robert Parker's Wine Advocate or eRobertParker.com."


eRobertParker.com decided to make it that way instead of continuing and developping a two-tier system with, on one side, a free subscription forum and, on the other side, a paid subscription to a forum with complementary offers and informations. Some kind of offers we find in Bordeaux with a Premier Grand Vin and a second wine, not free but much more affordable, which gives consumers an opportunity to get a feeling of what happens there. In fact, by making this announcement, Robert Parker creates a members-only club of wine lovers who pay to get a place (here a virtual place on erobertparker.com) and where people can meet and discuss with other club members.

Building a club membership business rather than a community or, in other words, building a luxury community. A club where people will exchange about the best wines in the world. A bit like sharing a discussion between members at the bar of the select Saint Andrews Golf Club in Scotland or at the Kee Club restaurant in Shanghai. I have to admit I love these places.

As mentioned in the e-mail, the amount of work required to supervise "the huge volume of posts has become increasingly time consuming and expensive". In fact, since November 2001 when it was launched, "the board became rapidly the Internet's premier forum for wine discussion".


This position of international leading forum on wine topics gives erobertparker.com the opportunity to ask for a subscription. People will have to take the full package: they subscribe to Wine Advocate or to eRobertParker.com and they are allowed to get in the discussion forum. The internet media business showed the way in this paid subscription model.

Wall Street Journal decided to do so quite early but they also decided to keep some information free (a very limited amount in fact) to attract some internet users' eyeballs who may in the future decide to get a subscription.

Robert Parker is Robert Parker. The internet is full of pages filled with wine critics but Robert Parker became a reference in that field. In that sense, very early, people agreed to pay for articles. Now eRobertParker.com has enough credibility to be the first to announce a paid subscription forum access. It may give others the idea to follow that business model.

Moreover, Robert Parker is not Robert Parker only. In fact eRobertparker.com is not only about Robert Parker but also about Antonio Galloni, Neal Martin, Jay Miller, Lisa Perrotti Brown, David Schildknecht, Mark Squire and others. They all give their point of view and this created a sphere of wine critics whose opinion is today highly regarded. Paying to get access to their articles is now relevant for most wine lovers and for any person working in the international wine business. The Wine hub is creating its own luxury environment with expensive wines, glamour and now a paid subscription forum access. Some privileged like us are lucky enough to get access to the best wines and to taste the most expensive ones. Some may get access to eRobertParker's wine forum, exchange with wine lovers about their passion and comment on their recent tasting experience of a spectacular 1840 Chateau Gruaud Larose. Some may not.

Twenty years ago, it would have been difficult for wine lovers to understand such a change. But the global demand has dramatically changed the wine sphere and has expanded its "luxury part" up to a point where now even wine discussion forums are not free anymore. Times change so quickly...

To learn more about Guillaume please visit www.wineinsightnewseconomics.blogspot.com .

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