French wine consumers learn to love le web shopping

Couple drinking wine while looking at an Ipad

It’s taken a while, but France’s online wine retail channel is finally starting to matter
Online wine sales in France are exhibiting a healthy growth and rather large numbers these days. In 2012, in the region of 3 million French adults[1] spent half a billion Euros[2] buying wine on the Web. On average, each French person buying wine online would therefore spend 170€ a year, which makes them a highly valuable target any retailer would want to look at.
But what does the typical online wine buyer look like? The answer is not necessarily one you would expect. A stereotypical-based view would be to consider that as younger consumers are born and bred with the Web, online wine shoppers should be on the younger side or, at most, in their 40s. One could also expect to find reasonably wealthy consumers in this target. True, our data shows that online wine buyers are clearly skewed towards wealthier households. However, online wine buyers are also skewed towards 50 years old +1, and predominantly male. The issue of gender may still be debatable: Xavier Court, co-founder of the famous online flash sales outlet “Ventes-Privées” recently reported that 49% of his wine buyers are females. This apparent inconsistency is likely to have a simple explanation: one size doesn’t fit all, e.g. the hundreds of French online wine retailers will attract different targets.
Talking about which, it seems that not all retailers are benefiting from the online wine sales growth. For example, the traditional 1855.com website has experienced a decline in revenue in the past few years. In the meantime, Millesima and Ventes-Privées report healthy growth rates. It can be estimated that both retailers’ combined online wine sales now probably account for roughly 10% of all online wine sales in the French market (our estimate : 50 million Euros of online sales for both retailers). Add to that the constant stream of online platforms moving in and out of the market, it seems obvious that some business models do better than others to tap into the French thirst to buy wine online.
In short, online wine sales are growing, driven by highly valuable consumers. However, several black holes exist: what is the motivation for buying online? Which business models most benefit from this growth? And why? Wine Intelligence will explore these questions among French wine consumers in an upcoming survey of Vinitrac© France.
Sources [1] : Our estimates, from Vinitrac© France, November 2012, n= 1037 adults representative of French wine drinkers
Sources [2] : BEM-Kedge, Vinexpo 2013, quoted in http://www.lemonde.fr/economie/article/2013/06/21/les-francais-achetent-toujours-plus-de-bouteilles-de-vin-en-ligne_3434256_3234.html
Author: Jean-Philippe Perrouty
E-mail: jean-philippe@wineintelligence.com
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