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Best Kept Secret v Loud and Proud


Hi Laura. You’re absolutely right. She did mention and I missed it. There are other posts where this did not happen, but for this specific wine society post, you’re absolutely right.

I suggest we create a topic on transparency, where we discuss this subject under a proper forum without any reference to a specific person or site. It’s a great topic. I really like the implications of it, from legal and personal perspective. It covers all areas of life: finance, healthcare, consumer products (including wine!) and it’s quite important. There are huge changes in disclosure regulations going on across various other areas (pensions and food labeling, are just two examples).


@Inbar Apologies I thought the mentors were the community police.


Just to say that Effi works for a wine importer who are the UK agent for Louis Roederer, hence that connection (and for Meerlust, Faiveley, Pio Cesare & others she mentions).
She is also Greek and shouts loud and proud about wines from her native country.
If you’re not getting paid for blogging about wine, surely you don’t need to declare that you’re not … #sample suffices on those posts where samples have been supplied (e.g. from us in this case).

She is! :slightly_smiling_face:


I think I won’t swallow your bait… :wink:


@NW3Andre the initial thread was a comment on change.
There are many organisations that have outgrown their original ideals due to a perception/need for change. It’s like changing one’s own personality. It has to been done seamlessly and with great caution for it to be done successfully.


@Ewan. Thanks. Makes sense, now that you’ve mentioned her background. As for what level of disclosure is required, one of the links I posted has guidelines from the Competition and Markets Authority on that:


A hashtag used inside a post to indicate that something was given as a sample could be interpreted as complying with the Competition Authority guidelines for Online endorsements (see below), so I would say that, overall, it’s up to the reader to be satisfied or not with the level of transparency. Hope this helps.

“If someone who publishes content accepts payment to endorse something, they need to make sure that the content is clearly identifiable as being paid-for. For example, they could label posts or videos as ‘advertisement feature’ or ‘advertisement promotion’.)”


Indeed. But I’m with @Inbar on this; of course not everything will appeal to everyone and where’s the problem with that? If a bit of anticipation is generated for some then does it really matter if it doesn’t work for everyone? I may be missing something but I really can’t see the problem.


a few “critics” posted over the weekend…


given that most of the comments were from established wine critics and industry peeps who (I’m assuming) had been invited to the press tasting then they can be trusted.

I get ‘followed’ on instagram by a lot of wannabe “influencers” - mainly people just posting pics of luxury end goods or them dressed “to the 9s” (as my late grandmother would have said) holding a glass / bottle… they are easy to spot. Tim Atkin, Jaime Goode, Janics Robinson, Will Lyons, Joe Fattorini etc are real industry people with a heritage


There’s a good point! I work for one such institution, and it’s a rather painful process.

However, being a members-led mutual, we are slightly different in that, by natural reasons, some of our membership will eventually die out. So without thinking ahead as to how we attract new members - many of whom will be younger (isn’t this a good thing? challenging the stuffy/stuck up image of wine appreciation?)- TWS won’t survive.

Personally, I am not on any other social media platforms, and I delete many an email I get from the Society about new products - mainly because there is no way I can afford it all - but I have no problem with receiving the emails/prompts. Quite the opposite- it makes me feel part of the Society, and it demonstrates engagement from the Society, rather than a ‘resting on the laurels’ attitude.

To resist change for resistance’s sake is just as myopic as bringing change for its own sake. There must be a middle path.


Change is often a difficult thing and I think part of the problem is the tendency to see change as a good thing in itself. Somehow change seems to become conflated with “improve” but in reality some changes are good and some are bad.

“We need to change” may or may not be a good idea. “We need to improve” is generally less controversial. The difficulty is knowing which changes will lead to the desired improvement. The idea that change is good in itself seems to have too many admirers, and (imo) sometimes leads to ill-considered actions.

One of my favourite local pubs has been running for over 450 years. Of course it has changed - for instance it has electricity - but in many ways I imagine it has changed very little. It’s a successful and popular pub. But of course it’s not trying to be anything else. A good example of the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” style which also has its merits.


There is reasons I don’t understand a perception that the older generation will die out and that will either solve a problem or create one, the older generation is what it is a conveyor belt of younger people getting older, it is the way of things, nothing will change that, everyone gets old including any new members.
I have no idea what the demographics of the society are re age, and no there is nothing wrong with trying to attract new younger members, but anyone who thinks attracting a younger set who statistics show are not drinking alcohol as much as before and are much more spread in what they drink will boost sales is how can I put it, ‘hopeful’, any new appeal for members will have to be wider than that.


I was at a conference last week and the keynote speech was from Hermann Hauser (inventor of Acorn computers, Founder of ARM (the processor in many mobile phones)) - it was mentioned that the average life for a company is now 19 years due to rate of change of many factors affecting businesses.

To have a society that has “survived” since 1874 means by the very nature of moving from the 2nd industrial revolution into the 4th and the soon to arrive 5th means it has changed but luckily it has kept its original idea at the heart of these changes!

People have changed in terms of where they live, how they live, there access to information…

The Society moved from all printed materials to a website, to an app but they saw the importance of keeping their “audience” happy - still retained telephone orders, faxed orders etc

We now have to view this from a sales and marketing perspective - simply having some wines listed in the Decanter Awards, weekend supplements etc wont do in todays age - there is still a place for them but we have to acknowledge the power of social media and the market that it brings - I’m mid 40s and a heavy social media user (like going to AA writing this!!) but those 40 odd years have made me thick skinned to influencers, the famous etc - I can distinguish my targeted reading from the dross.

The Society has to move forward as (sadly) we will loose member every year and they need to be replaced. Replacements can come from anyone 18 to 108 but we have to work in targeting across the various methods that those generations will access - a review in the telegraph weekend, a piece on a TV show, an email or even instagram - its the current we live in.

If you don’t like it just stick to the media routes you like.

Now as I prepare for the 5th Industrial revolution - where my virtual cellar master will order on my behalf from a data set of my current cellar, my upcoming meals. social occasions, my guests, new trends, available funds and the use of Machine Learning to improve based on feedback loops - I’m off to twitter to see what’s being said about wine


That is true - and I have nothing against ‘older’ members - indeed, I very much hope to become one. But if I heard of the Society in my, say, 20’s or 30’s - I would have had an extra decade or two to be part of it, and enjoy its benefits. As I only discovered it in my mid-forties, I hope some younger people will be luckier than me.

Pitting ‘old’ members against ‘young’ members is a silly thing, in any case. We are all members, we are all united in love of wine.


very little difference - pub still sells beer to customers…wine society still sells wine to customers


Great post, @JamesF In fact, wine recommendations based on “if you like this, try that” could greatly benefit from a machine learning algorithm, similar to what the largest e-retailer uses. It’s an area that’s primed for some interesting developments.


I can just imagine the ensuing threads! :scream:


Ok, having been slightly surprised by the tone of some of the comments on this thread I have taken a moment to scroll back and review it as a whole.

As @AnaGramWords points out, “the initial thread was a comment on change” and quoted a couple of phrases (used in the thread title) from the Chairman’s introduction to the Annual Review.

Context is everything so I thought it might be worth taking a moment to take a look at the statement as a whole to see if that shed any light on what the Chairman was getting at. Forgive the long quote but the following passage is the “meat” of the Chairman’s introduction that preceded the use of the phrases that were quoted at the start of this thread:

"The overarching theme of this review is ‘what it means to be a mutual’ and what that means for you, the members. This will be familiar to many of you, but we think it’s worth repeating, especially for our newer members: this way of working (whether you call it mutual or co-operative – we
do both) really is at the heart of the way we do things here. We have used various phrases in the past such as ‘putting members first’ and ‘passion before profit’ to try to express our raison d’être. But none quite captures the essence of mutuality or why we believe so strongly in it. With no pressure from analysts or the financial markets, with no external shareholders calling for a rising share price or dividend streams, we can take the time to make measured business decisions which will hold good over the longer term and not fall into the trap of knee jerk actions which might deliver short-term results but are not sustainable. We don’t need to expand rapidly to satisfy shareholders, we don’t need to expand overseas or diversify away from our core business to generate more sales. What we need to do is to grow steadily, ahead of the rate of inflation, and to make sufficient profit (and cash) to allow investment into the business as, for example, technology changes."

Personally I am really struggling to read that as anything that even hints that TWS is about to become one of those “many organisations that have outgrown their original ideals due to a perception/need for change.” Quite the reverse in fact.


current algorithms are very messy (for many reasons) - they either link the manufacture, product or others purchases to your purchase. So if I purchase a bottle of Guigal Gigondas that could be recommendations for

same producer - Guigal Condireu - but I dont like white wine
same product (red wine) - Guigal Cotes du rhone - bought it once thought it as naff
same product (red wine) - society Gigondas - bought it once thought it as naff
others purchase - half bottle of sweet sherry ( in another s basket at the same time being bought as a pressie for gran!)

The future is understanding the individual and taking their data history and managing that to produce detailed recommendations based on purchase, feedback (ratings on website / vivino etc) it sounds easy…but isn’t …just look at what amazon recommends when you buy something - it keeps recommending versions of that item for you even when you have purchased!


My question was about distinguishing between different categories of influencer, not between them and established wine critics.

As others have said, full disclosure is essential and something TWS should insist on.