Do women and men have measurably different relationships with wine? The answer: yes, but not as much as you might think
Do men and women engage with wine differently? Perhaps this is a dangerous question in the era of heightened gender politics. However, it is also a reasonable quantitative research question to ask, and the validity of the various theories doing the rounds might have profound commercial implications for those selling wine to the world’s 2 billion or so wine consumers, who divide roughly equally into the two genders.
Plenty has been written about the supposed differences between men and women in terms of how they think, act and interact with one another. There is also a lot of generalisation about how they buy, based on observation (and occasionally unsubstantiated prejudice).
As researchers in the wine category, we often find that factors other than gender provide better explanations for variance in behaviour. These could include: how old you are, where you live, whether or not you have children living at home, how much you know about wine, whether you grew up in a wine drinking household, how much disposable income you have and most likely a combination of these and a few other factors.
Yet, the gender-and-wine question remains and with it a number of fascinating and mostly anecdotal theories about gender-related wine behaviour. In the recently published Wine Consumption and Gender Report, Wine Consumption and Gender: Do men and women really approach wine differently?, we have taken some of the most commonly-heard hypotheses, and used our extensive international consumer behaviour and attitudinal datasets, plus some specifically-designed research experiments, to see if there is any evidence to support or refute them.
Of course, we would not presume to think that we have the last word on this – so rather than demolishing or ‘proving’ any of these theories, we note simply what the evidence tells us so far.
The report investigates 11 hypotheses about gender difference in wine usage and attitude across six key markets for wine: Australia, Canada, China, Japan, UK and US. In these six markets combined, there are an estimated 230 million wine drinkers, split almost exactly 50-50 between men and women.
Some of the hypotheses we sought to tackle include:
Do women drink more than men?
The short answer is no. The report finds an almost equal split between men and women in terms of the proportion of regular wine drinkers across markets. The report finds that across the six key wine drinking markets there is a near 50/50 split, apart from China where we see slightly more males drinking in the market.
Are men more knowledgeable about and confident with wine compared with women?
The results of this were inconclusive and more complex than we originally thought. Men and women have very similar levels of wine knowledge across all six markets, leading to a global wine knowledge index that is identical for men and women. However, men are significantly more confident with wine in all markets with the exception of China, where women and men are equally confident with wine. A strong gender bias continues in the on-premise, with a significantly higher proportion of men stating that they are always / mostly the person ordering wine when in a restaurant
Are women more likely to buy sustainable and ethical wines compared with men?
In a global context, a significantly higher proportion of women would consider purchasing organic wine, sustainably-produced wine and Fairtrade wine than men. More specifically, the biggest gap is observed in Sweden, where 69% of women said they are likely or very likely to buy organic wine, whilst only 52% of men would consider buying it. The purchase intent for sustainably-produced and Fairtrade wine mirrors that of organic wine, with more women being open to buying these wines than men.
In addition, the report also covers the following:
- Do men spend more money on wine than women, with luxury wine more a male domain?
- Is wine more integrated into the everyday lives of women compared with men?
- Do men rely more on external validation of their wine choices compared with women?
- Is red wine for men and white / rosé wine for women?
- Is sparkling wine mainly a woman’s drink?
- Do men and women like different kinds of label designs?
- Do women favour female-led, -owned or -made wines when given the choice?
- Are women more conscious of moderating their alcohol consumption compared with men?
For more information, please read more about our Wine Consumption and Gender 2018 report here.
Author: Chuan Zhou