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A Ramble on Norwich, Charity and eBay and Wine

Norwich is eBay capital of the UK, official.  More people from Norwich, 44% in fact, per head of population have registered with eBay than anywhere else in the UK.  There are several theories as to why, one of which is ‘real’ geography: Norwich is quite isolated.  Simple.  You would have thought that this trade would have impacted upon the many, many second hand shops in Norwich but some of them it would seem are actually doing better through trading on eBay themselves.  This made me wonder how eBay has affected charity shops because none of the high street charities utilise eBay through an ‘official’ presence on there as an eBay shop [at least none that I could see].  Perhaps it’s because most high street charity shops operate quite independently and they would be difficult to co-ordinate?   Or the organisation required to produce an effective service would be too great?  Or perhaps because others are just doing it better? 

How can charities compete then?  Perhaps, if they are catering to the poorest underclass that are not online then they should not compete online – tricky one that. 

From doing a great trade in a near ‘perfect’ market .. to not doing a great in a managed market: the ongoing wine surplus in France.  Sales are down at home and abroad.  The average French person drinks less than half what they did in 1961
[yet they still rank as the worlds biggest slurpers of the stuff,
putting away 13 gallons each a year on average].  While previously cheap wine has been the worst hit, this time around the mid and top end of the market is suffering.   So what’s being done? France is asking for 300 million Euros to sort out this problem.  How?  To recompense wine growers and pay them to produce less which works so handsomely already as the common agricultural policy [CAP]. Not.  But more radical measures include breaking up the controlle

However, it would seem that the changes in the production of wine are needed to just get in line with a reduction in demand.  Whilst alcohol abuse amongst younger adults rise through binge drinking, older adults are it would seem becoming more aware of the what they consume and are cutting down.  Wine makers complain that the ban on advertising alcohol in France [that Chirac introduced in 2002] are too effective and that France needs to support its heritage.   

Francois Collache, UK managing director of French
wine promoter Sopexa, says the industry does need to re-think how it
markets its products.

"It is not about the quality of the product, which I am
confident about, but about marketing it and the creation and
communication of brands. How do we organise and simplify our offer to
make it more easily understandable to consumers?" [source: BBC]

Bunkum.   Everyone knows what wine is.  And while some vineyards have created brands from their ‘products’, such as Julio Gallos’ wines [rubbish in my opinion] and ‘The Big Red’ and ‘Goats Du Roam‘, none can extend the brand significantly because you can’t gurantee a better product year on year, or improve ‘design’ of the liquid product.  The only possible way to market and innovate effectively in this market is at the level of the supplier [Hotel du Vin chain does this well as do other niche holiday providers ] and Virgin and other suppliers have also innovated here.  But most are product independent.  You cannot scale wine tastings on local vineyards.   Which is a shame. 

So here’s the idea –  vineyards are good at appealing directly to the consumer.  Wine has a fascinating life history and is unique.  Consequently, wine can evoke a strong relationship with the buyer.  So why not have a central clearing house for wine based around the auction model but for end consumers?  Rating wines, discussing the way in which the wine is produced. In short,  developing the relationship across the supply chain between the wine, the people on the vineyard, distributors and the buyer.  Doing all those things you see at the vineyard but using web services to benefit from the wisdom of crowds, or other wine drinkers.