Failed Disruption: A Cross-National Analysis of Books and Wines

Mauro Guillén, Management, The Wharton School

Abstract: Over the last two decades many categories of services have shifted from the traditional to the digital format, including music, news, job postings, and dating, among many others. Meanwhile, the sale of products has shifted significantly from physical to online channels, including clothing, toys, cosmetics, and even food. This research project is aimed at understanding two prominent instances of failed digital disruption, namely, books and wines. Sales of printed books in the U.S. continue to grow while those of digital books have started to decline in absolute numbers after a few years of significant growth. In other parts of the world, however, sales of e-books have increased. Similarly, in most countries around the world wine sales represent less than 3 percent of total off-trade sales. Online wine sales are more than 10 percent of the total only in China (19.3%), Australia (11.3%), and the UK (10.3%). (In the U.S. a meager 1.8% is online sales.) Using data at the country level between 2000 and 2018, I intend to test the impact of economic, sociological, demographic, and technological factors on these striking cross-national differences.