Canned wine continues to grow ahead of other formats, albeit from a very small base, in key global markets such as the USA. At a time when the volume of wine consumed in many mature markets is flattening off or in decline, it’s perhaps no surprise that this format is attracting significant attention – as it is in other beverage alcohol categories.
For consumers, the advantages of alcohol in cans are clear. They are smaller and lighter to carry, yet also more durable; they are just as recyclable as glass and open to more distinctive packaging designs, making them perfect for outdoor social drinking which has been a growing occasion during Covid-19. For the trade, too, there are advantages. Cans take up less space in retail store-rooms and fridges, are lighter to transport and available in alternative sizes. When allowed to sell in convenience retail, there are also more opportunities to make a higher margin than a standard 750ml bottle would normally offer.
Canned wine enjoys these advantages as well, but has not yet achieved critical mass. One issue is that the history of wine has been very prominently tied to the glass bottle. Older drinkers might flirt with the idea of a bag-in-box wine, if it is attractively packaged and the need state involves large, outdoor socialising, but for many older drinkers, the idea of wine in a can remans an anathema. Not surprisingly, therefore, younger drinkers (25-44) are the most open to the concept of wine in cans, not least because the situations that cans are good for – drinking while out and about – best fit their lifestyle. Millennials in the US are 50% more likely to buy wine in a can once they are aware the format exists, according to Wine Intelligence consumer research. That said, the penetration of the can format has so far remained small, because even younger drinkers are strongly influenced by the idea that wine comes in glass bottles.
Wine Intelligence recommends that wine producers consider the following 6 factors when evaluating investing in producing wine in cans:
- ‘It’s not just the same wine but in a can’. Given the operational factors that can impact the quality of wine in a can, producers should evaluate which types of wines to trial or move into this format. This could also be considered from a consumer perspective – consumers typically consume sparkling beverages from cans, which are typically served chilled, hence a stronger openness from consumers for both rosé and sparkling wines from a can, or mixed wine products with added carbonation.
- Leverage the growth in premiumisation. In both the wine and TBA categories, as consumers are increasingly purchasing and consuming from cans in other alcohol categories, acceptance levels for premium products in cans will grow – so long as the premium cues are made clear.
- Leverage the current opportunity for wine RTDs. Recent consumer insight from Wine Intelligence and the IWSR shows that consumers in the USA have been increasingly experimenting across the RTD category during 2021. For example, innovations such as Taylor’s Portonic in a can have gained early adoption and listings.
- Existing wine brands can extend successfully to the can format. Given that consumers are typically buying wine in cans based on occasion drivers such as outdoor socialising, existing wine brands will likely not negatively impact their current brand values by extending to this format. From a consumer perspective, there has been reversion back to tried and trusted brands during the pandemic, and the reassurance of known brands is likely to support consumers’ trust in the canned format.
- Focus on the depth rather than breadth of distribution. Given that the majority of wine in can purchases are for specific and often spontaneous occasions, combined with a shorter shelf life than bottled wine, the impulse channel is key for success, when local regulations allow this channel to sell wine. Having canned wine in wide distribution may make your initial depletions look good, and make your distributor happy, but some retail environments will have a lot more relevance to this format than others.
- Canned wine is a way into the low alcohol trend. Creating a wine product in a can gives producers an opportunity to step outside the classic 11-13% ABV alcohol level, with the can format acting as a differentiating device to avoid negative comparisons to standard wine. By combining a wine base with other mixers, there is an opportunity to achieve a 5% ABV product, lower in calories as well as alcohol, and deliver a product that is distinguished from standard wine in both format as well as taste.
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- Wine packaging and the rise of e-commerce
- Can wine ride the moderation wave?
- In a market dominated by bag-in-box (beyond 75cl glass), 2/3rds of Swedish wine drinkers would consider buying wine in pet in the future