Over the past three years the UK’s wine drinkers have grown more open-minded about alternative wine packaging formats that save weight, offer value and avoid waste; and the recent lockdown may have boosted this trend
The UK wine market has always been one of the pioneers (along with Sweden) when it comes to alternative wine trends in Europe, especially when it comes to alternative packaging trends. Wine consumers in the UK show a growing openness to try wine packaging formats beyond the classic 75cl glass bottle, making the UK a highly promising market in terms of alternative packaging opportunities.
Consumers in the UK show a noticeable increase in awareness of alternative packaging types, especially compared with other European markets. Although the standard 75cl glass bottle remains the most well-known in the market, awareness levels for other formats are growing; with lesser known packaging types, such as pouches and cans, still known by almost half of the UK regular wine drinkers. These relatively high awareness levels, coupled with increasing consideration levels for most packaging types, are promising and portray a consumer who is open and willing to trial alternatives beyond the classic packaging formats.
Allied with this, UK regular wine drinkers are showing a growing openness towards bag-in-box with the purchase frequency of these by UK drinkers having increased during June and July 2020, suggesting that Covid-19 positively impacted bag-in-box sales, though standard glass bottles were still the biggest beneficiaries of the off-trade sales surge in the first half of 2020. Bag-in-box convenience and good value for money, coupled with consumer environmental consciousness, are driving this demand. However, there remains a key barrier to purchasing bag-in-box, as well as for pouches and cans: the belief that these packaging types typically contain lower quality wine. This highlights a key challenge for producers targeting the UK market to develop a premium bag-in-box sub-category.
As well as supporting sustainability, consumers are willing to swap to alternative wine packaging types because of value and convenience. Wine Intelligence data also shows a strong link between specific occasions and packaging types, suggesting consumers to be strongly occasion-driven when deciding which wine packaging to purchase – glass bottles for more formal and gift occasions and cans for more niche occasions of travelling and outdoor events. There is however an emerging opportunity for cans, as consumers associate this option with the opportunity to try new brands and styles of wine.
The main barrier to purchasing alternative packaging formats is the long-standing and habitual preference for standard glass bottles. Smaller format bottles are still seen as delivering comparatively poor value for money, whilst magnums are seen as expensive and too difficult to carry and store at home.
Nonetheless, the picture shown in the latest data collected by Wine Intelligence in July and August 2020 portrays some new potential for alternative wine formats in the UK and we expect the positive attitude and curiosity, especially among younger consumers, to continue to drive alternative packaging formats for wine for years to come.