Wine Intelligence explores 12 global trends, categorised into six themes, which we have identified over the past year relating to wine consumer’s consumption and behaviour
Identifying trends in consumer behaviour has been something of a growth industry for several decades. Exciting and game-changing things are happening more quickly than ever before in many consumer goods categories, as communication technology blurs cultural and community boundaries. New and (mostly) useful goods and services are adopted at a speed that would surprise even the business leaders of 20 years ago.
Alcoholic drinks are at the forefront of several trends, which offer both immense opportunities and daunting challenges to today’s leadership cohort. Consumer behaviours in this space are arguably on a more rapid evolutionary trajectory because alcohol is subject to regulatory changes, as well as changes in technology, retailing and consumer culture. Within alcohol, wine must compete – and to an extent emulate – developments in adjacent categories such as craft beer, spirits and hard cider.
Wine is consumed in many ways across many markets, but throughout the past year we have identified a number of trends that span boundaries. In the Global Trends in Wine 2019 report, Wine Intelligence explores 12 global trends, categorised into six themes, that we have identified from trade interviews and our tracking data collected via Vinitrac®, our wine consumer survey platform that gathers usage and attitude information from wine drinkers in 33 major markets every year.
With an increase in length and quality of life, the world’s population is ageing. Not only are people living longer, but there has also been a decline in birth-rates. Within the world of wine, this is reflected in a shift to a higher proportion of older regular wine drinkers, with maturing consumers naturally showing a different wine drinking behaviour than younger consumers, which is attributed to older drinkers having more experience and knowledge about wine.
Similarly, we are also seeing more of a gender equilibrium. As this is a politically and economically charged topic, wine has been a rather gender-neutral product across key markets. According to our data, men and women tend to consume equal shares of wine in terms of volume; however, there are some differences in their approach to wine: men are more confident in their knowledge, despite being objectively as knowledgeable as women.
Globally, we have also seen a rise in consumers’ involvement with wine. With a continuing focus on all things culinary, wine drinkers have become more involved with the category. The growing significance and development of our food culture has led to consumers becoming increasingly influenced by food and wine matching. Consumers, especially younger ones, are also increasingly more open to trying new wines.
Despite this increased involvement, we are seeing a decline in recalled wine knowledge. In a time where almost everyone owns a smartphone or has access to the internet, information is available within seconds and the need to remember details is minimal. When it comes to wine, consumers are aware of fewer wine-producing countries and regions, which is again a trend we have seen strongly amongst Millennials, especially in the US and the UK.
In addition to changes in demographics and consumer attitudes, it seems that wine drinkers are changing their off-trade channel mix and focusing more on online channels (within market regulations), discounters and convenience outlets. Many retail structures in monopoly markets are also becoming more flexible and regulations are changing, allowing for the sale of (some) alcohol and wine outside of the monopoly stores.
In terms of the on-trade, occasions are evolving towards a trend of ‘casualisation’. Consumers are more often looking for authentic, quick and experiential eating and drinking-out options. This has resulted in declining numbers of drinkers enjoying wine when out on the on-trade – and when they do eat or drink out, it is often for less formal occasions.
The shift in channels towards more discounters aligns with the trend of increased price consciousness, where, on one hand, consumers see wine as an expensive drink and seek the best value for their budget. And on the other, we see wine drinkers increasingly treating themselves – evidenced by trading up within the rosé category and switching for still wine to the typically slightly higher-priced Prosecco.
Wine consumers are also becoming more visual when choosing their wine. Again, the growing influence of smartphones has resulted in a very visual economy, where we navigate via visual cues and wine consumers are basing their purchase decision on the visual appeal of the label or bottle.
Wine drinkers are also showing a narrowing recalled origin repertoire, but place more importance on the country or region of origin of their wine. These seemingly contradictory shifts are in line with the reducing recalled wine knowledge and the increased availability of information, while consumers still look for authentic experiences. The rising wine involvement and adventurism has also caused a fragmentation of the varietal range as international varietals are consumed less, but more consumers are open to trying niche and local varietals.
Our previous Global Consumer Trends reports have focused a lot on responsibility and the consumer’s duty towards the environment and their health, especially in terms of the consumers relationship with alcohol. This year, the move towards both moderation and abstinence has impacted the wine industry, as the sector of lower- and no-alcohol beverage options continues to grow.
In addition, over the past few years, ethical consumerism has moved from niche to mainstream. Younger consumers are increasingly paying attention to the impact of their behaviour on the environment and, globally, we can see a change in mindset when it comes to ethical products and services. Companies must therefore act more ethically responsible and become more transparent. Certification for ethical practices is not only available for all sorts of products, but also increasingly found on wine labels. In addition, wine drinkers are looking for organic, sustainably-produced and Fairtrade wines, extending their sense of responsibility to their wine drinking choices.
The Global Trends in Wine 2019 report goes in-depth on all 12 consumer trends above, providing concrete examples of how they are seen in the world of wine. For more information, or to purchase the report, please contact Emily Carroll directly at email@example.com.
Author: Chuan Zhou