We publish the first comprehensive report of new survey data reporting on wine consumers in the time of the pandemic – and document how Australian wine consumer attitudes and behaviours are responding to these previously unknown circumstances
Wine Intelligence publishes, on April 24th 2020, the first of a series of new reports focusing on the behaviour and attitudes of consumers in light of the coronavirus pandemic. The report covering our Australia insight will be followed by 10 others over the course of the next two months, detailing the way in which wine drinkers across major consumption markets have reacted during lockdown and how they are anticipating their behaviour to change post the removal of restrictive measures.
Our thinking behind this initiative is fairly obvious: faced with fundamental and far-reaching disruption to their lives, wine drinkers around the world will be changing their behaviour, partly due to imposed measures. As researchers, our job is to catalogue these changes, and also start the conversation about which behaviours and attitudes will last beyond the lockdown, and which are temporary.
Surveys in the first market, Australia, took place in late March and early April as the Australian government first ordered the shutdown of bars and restaurants and imposed social distancing rules, and then, during the last week of the survey, imposed a lockdown, permitting only essential journeys out of home. Our data therefore reflects this period where new behaviours and norms were established by households across the nation. Our questions probed how people were interacting with wine, clearly, but we were also interested in broader attitudes – to other alcoholic beverages, to social and travel activities after lockdown, and to financial and lifestyle priorities.
A bit like the virus crisis itself, the sentiments expressed in this study are complex and multi-layered. On one level, it seems to be a case of “keep calm and carry on”: wine drinking is holding up, with old social occasions in pubs, restaurants and other people’s houses replaced by more intimate family events or online socialising. Those in Gen X (aged 40-54) actually increased their frequency of wine drinking during the lockdown period with those in Gen Z, the youngest cohort, reducing their frequency of wine drinking the most.
On another level, caution about the economy and the state of the world post-pandemic is clearly affecting sentiment. Spend per bottle on wine for home consumption is down with wine drinkers in Australia reducing their typical spend for all at-home occasions, and particularly for the most frequent occasion of a relaxing drink or informal meal at home. There is also understandable caution about the extent to which normal social activities, vacations and events will be accessible in the immediate aftermath of lockdown.
Looking further ahead, consumers are expressing a mix of optimism, prudence and more caution. The most salient priority appears to be saving money, and there’s less appetite for big lifestyle changes or business travel.
More encouraging for the wine category, there is a significant minority who appear determined to live life to the fullest once they are permitted to do so – treating themselves to something luxurious, trying new styles of food and drink, and buying more expensive wines.