In the digital world, whether it is a novel product or a decade old wine, most products and brands have a presence on social media (SM) to keep up with the dynamic trends of the business environment (Berthon et al., 2012; Vries et al., 2012). While the literature does not provide sufficient evidence with regards to the use and the effects of internet and SM on the wine sector (Thach, 2009), luxury wines are one of the few industries that have failed to adopt internet and SM into their marketing strategies and consistently failed to enjoy profits from such opportunity (Arana, 2016). Grounded on that, the aim of this research is to examine the influence of internet and SM on luxury wine brands’ consumers’ purchase intentions. Following the critical examination of the literature review, to achieve the research objectives, this study employed a mixed-method approach in the data collection.
For the qualitative research, four semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted with leading luxury wine brand managers to deliver insights into the phenomena. The qualitative data revealed that the managers see internet and SM as an important opportunity for better communication, internalisation and an exceptional source of information. However, the authenticity of the luxury wine brands has elevated questions with regards to the suitability of the digital platforms and managers advocated that SM activities should be handled with extreme care. With some reservations, the managers further suggest that effective use of digital platforms can prove direct return for luxury wine brands in terms of brand visibility and awareness, but an indirect return in terms of brand loyalty, brand equity, purchase intentions and sales.
The quantitative phase of the research was achieved via an online survey with 282 respondents. The survey aims to analyse the influence of internet and SM on luxury wine brand consumers’ purchase intentions. The regression analysis result shows that consumers’ positive attitudes towards SMM activities of luxury wine brands impact the overall consumers’ purchase intentions for luxury wine brands positively (β=0.499, t=9.150, p<0.0005).
The interpretation of the findings focusses on the relationship between internet, SM and luxury wine brands’ consumers’ purchase intentions. The interviews revealed that considering the speciality of the product type of wine, luxury wine brands are imperturbable with regards to their presence and use of the SM. The survey has supported this by pointing out that more than half of the luxury wine consumers have never experienced a luxury wine brand advertisement on digital platforms before.
The conclusions indicate that digital platforms are an important opportunity to create a competitive advantage in the market that will soon to be a must. A critical management of SM activities has been stressed. The finding suggests that luxury wine firms should work innovatively and create practical solutions to eliminate excuses like the authenticity of the product does not match SM; via better content management and demanded more marketing research from the brands to aid them in their long-term sustainable marketing strategies. The study’s main limitation has emerged as the lack of generalisation of the results, whereas, the study demanded further researches such as a focus on FGC and UGC, and on different characteristics of wine (still, sparkling, champagne).