After years of trading down, Germany’s wine market seems to be going in the opposite direction.
With centuries of entrenched wine-drinking tradition, Germany is not only the 4th largest wine market in the world but also ranks among the most mature and developed. German wine drinkers are seasoned consumers, well accustomed to both domestic and international wines, and for whom this drink has long since featured as part of a quotidian routine.
Such markets, comprised of experienced, savvy consumers, are often slow moving and devoid of the electric dynamism and vibrancy characteristic of newly emerging markets where wine is just finding its feet. In place of kaleidoscopic shifts in patterns of consumer behaviour and purchase trends, established markets frequently exhibit much subtler changes.
Yet these changes are no less remarkable for their subtlety. In fact, that any change is afoot in an environment generally less amenable to it is testament to the meaningfulness of that change. In other words, developments in the mature German wine market are especially worthy of note, and this is precisely what our Germany Landscapes Report 2016, published last week, aims to reflect.
One clear development, which goes some way in accounting for the others, is that German drinkers are with time becoming still more involved in wine (over 1/3 of them have ‘high involvement’), coming to embrace it as part of their lifestyle to an even greater extent than previously (4 in 10 drinkers regarding wine as important to their way of life versus only 1/3 in 2015). Hand in hand with this has come a greater emphasis on the provenance of wine, the region of origin now ranking as the highest choice cue for German regular wine drinkers when selecting wine.
More specifically, whether the wine comes from close to one’s own community or from further afield has become a more significant factor for most German drinkers, who are increasingly concerned about supporting local producers. This is something an insider’s perspective can also anecdotally vouch for. When interviewing a prominent tradesperson recently we were informed that “there is a trend towards regionalism in the German wine market with many trying to get wines from their own German region”. Interestingly, this is also reflected on a more macroscopic, national level, with most countries of origin experiencing a decline in consumption, yet German wines maintain steady sales.
As wine becomes more routine, price naturally plays a greater role. German drinkers are more and more concerned with getting the best they can for their budget, and there has been a significant increase in those who are predominantly concerned with price since 2015.
Perhaps the most striking news is the bubbling-over of the sparkling category. Sekt consumption is up significantly on 2015, and German sparkling wine drinkers are diversifying their sparkling repertoire, popping Champagne, Cava and Prosecco all with more vim than in previous years.
What this evidence suggests is that, albeit as a well established market, albeit at a slower pace than some, Germany too is on the move.