The Australian sparkling market may seem flat, but perhaps there’s more to celebrate than we think.
If our only measure of success was volume, Australia’s sparkling wine market would not be in the winner’s circle. As I was looking over our previous Network News articles on the subject in preparation to write this one, it would be tempting to conclude that not much has changed in 12 months. Admittedly from a strong base – Australia is, after all, the 9th largest sparkling wine market by volume in the world – a look at the per capita consumption of sparkling wine in litres per annum over the last five years shows our annual consumption is slipping away, from 2.68 litres in 2011 per capita per annum to 2.53 litres in 2015.
In addition, whilst 50% of Australian alcohol drinkers drink sparkling wine, this proportion is not growing. And, compared to the alcoholic beverages that top the Australian alcohol drinkers’ repertoire (still wine and beer), sparkling wine remains a special occasion drink, while in other markets (like the USA, and the UK) it is staging a breakout into more everyday occasions.
However, a brief look beneath the surface data brings us a more nuanced picture of the market – and one in which long-term changes are happening:
Imported wine: Imported sparkling wine volumes into Australia are on the increase, driven by France and Italy. Australians have a strong awareness of imported brands, led by Moet & Chandon and G.H. Mumm, the former the favourite sparkling wine brand when prompted and the latter demonstrating significant long term growth in terms of brand purchase. As we have reported in our 2016 Australian Landscapes report, Australians are broadening their source country portfolio, and sparkling is no exception.
Sparkling wine from Australia: It may be losing volume to imports, but the domestic product is still a clear favourite with the highest consumption reach of all sparkling wine types along with the highest value for money perception and strong quality perceptions.
Prosecco: For the first time this year we have differentiated between Australian and Italian Prosecco and the results are positive for both. Although Italian Prosecco has higher quality perceptions, Australian Prosecco is seen as offering better value for money and they both have the same number of claimed drinkers, reaching 2/3rds of sparkling wine drinkers.
Cava: Australian sparkling wine drinkers don’t have as much love for the Spanish fizz: it ranks lowest out of all sparkling wine types in terms of frequency of consumption (although this measure is displaying long term growth), value for money and quality perception. There is, therefore, much room for Cava producers and importers to educate the Australian market on the merits of this type of sparkling wine and improve market perception.
And we may yet see a mainstreaming of sparkling in Australia, per the trends we observe among Millennials in other markets. One stat to note for the future: not only are 25-34 year olds significanly more likely to count sparkling wine in their alcoholic beverage repertoire than the average, but this same consumer segment have reported drinking significantly more sparkling wine from Australia than 12 months ago.