The fruit-flavoured wine category appears to have some momentum at last. Here are three hypotheses we would like to test.

As a wine lover who grew up immersed in a very traditional and conservative wine producing region – Tuscany – I must admit to a little scepticism when I first saw the words “fruit flavoured” written on a wine label probably a couple of years ago, on a supermarket shelf here in London.

I wonder whether ten years ago – even in a fast-moving wine market like the UK – it would have been wise to bet on the success of wine-based beverages with added natural flavourings or fruit extracts. However as most business gurus will tell you, timing is everything. Reading some articles circulated over the past few months and browsing supermarkets shelves and online shops, the category seems to be growing in size. The unanswered question: how popular, and long-lived, will this new style of wine be with consumers?

At Wine Intelligence, part of our job as market researchers is to identify and understand consumer drivers and motivations that bring about innovations and trends in wine. So next month we will be  surveying alcoholic beverage drinkers in the UK and the USA to find an answer to important questions for the fruit flavoured category in general. We hope to use this data to address a few key questions:

1) What overlap is there between fruit flavoured wine drinker and drinkers of other beverages?

Current hypothesis circulating in the media is that fruit flavoured wines are filling a gap between traditional wine drinkers and those who stick to the beer-and-cider side of alcoholic beverages. Fruit-flavoured cider brands such Kopparberg have lead the way and probably inspired wine brands to emulate the innovation. Are fruit flavoured wines taking share from the beer and cider market? Are they attracting occasional wine drinkers with a sweeter palate? Could they be attracting customers from different segments, or has the category brought a completely new group of drinkers to the party?

2) Is age the main driver of fruit flavoured wine consumption?

When Accolade Wines first launched its Echo Falls Fruit Fusion range in the UK market in 2014, they described their target as the “Coca Cola generation” who, “having grown up on sweet fizzy drinks don’t immediately take up wine once they reached the legal drinking age”. We know from previous research studies that younger drinkers tend to drink sweeter / less tannic beverages, which makes a good starting point for our profiling hypothesis. However, there could be other demographic factors at work which haven’t yet been identified.

3) How big could the category become?

According to Nielsen data, the category was worth just over £48 million to the UK off-trade in the 52 weeks to 2nd January 2016, with Echo Falls Fruit Fusion range accounting for the 91% of that total. Put another way, that’s about 0.75% of the wine category, and also a bit larger than the 5.5% ABV low alcohol wine category reached at its height. Echo Falls is arguably taking advantage of being the first mover in the market and other big brands are following with new product offerings, such as “Spritz” by Gallo Family Vineyards and Arniston Bay. Will these new entrants grow the category further, or – as with the 5.5% category – are we looking at the peak?

Look out for our syndicated research report on this subject a bit later in the year. In the meantime, there’s still time to formulate your own questions on this (or any other) consumer insights question in our upcoming Vinitrac omnibus surveys happening in 10 countries in July. Deadline for questions is the end of this week.

Author: Daniele Gozzi