UK Packaging - Good things come in average sized packages

Younger drinkers in the UK lead the opportunity for considering alternative wine packaging in the future, even though those who purchase wine in formats beyond the standard 75cl bottles remains small

Creating new ways of serving and delivering food and drink has become a common, if sometimes mocked, part of the recent food revolution. Pop-up restaurants and on-trend cafes are finding new ways to avoid using plates and glasses. Social media accounts now regularly feature cocktails served in watering cans or cooked breakfasts laid out on the head of a shovel.

One place that seems immune to this trend is the wine category, where the number of drinkers buying wine in formats other than a 75cl bottle remains small, as detailed in our recent Wine Packaging Formats and Closures in the UK Market 2018 report.

Despite a strong affinity for the classic 75cl bottle, there are regular wine drinkers in UK who aren’t familiar with the this standard glass bottle, and this is especially true amongst younger drinkers,  demonstrating their relative lack of experience and engagement with wine at this stage. Younger drinkers are also less likely to know different packaging types for wine in general, but are more likely to consider buying these alternatives in the future. Their wine drinking is less habitual, less steeped in tradition, which could explain why they feel a significantly higher affinity for alternative packaging types such as pouches and single serve bottles. They also give hope to the future of wine in a can, which, despite recording the lowest affinity rating in our study could yet see success. Single serves have the highest rate of conversion to purchase outside of 75cl bottles and show stronger potential with younger drinkers.

More mature wine drinkers however favour larger, magnum bottles more than their younger counterparts. Those between aged 35 and 44 have a significantly higher conversion rate for 1.5L bottles and also feel more of an affinity for magnums than younger wine drinkers. Key to this openness to magnums is the sense ‘of occasion’ that magnums bring to a wine drinking moment.

In terms of closures, the UK is now a market where screw-caps and corks have equal preference. Younger consumers however, are more likely to reject a natural cork and since 2013, their acceptance of screw caps has increased significantly.

This can all be compared to Wine Intelligence’s recent report on Wine Packaging Formats and Closures in the Australian Market 2018 where younger consumers (those under the age of 35) are becoming more comfortable buying wine in alternative size formats, specifically 1.5L bottles or smaller half-bottle formats, than their older peers.  However, it is important to note that those under-35s still have a preference for standard-sized 75cl wine bottles in Australia, in line with the market as a whole.  More about this can be read in our report description and article ‘The young and alternative’ published in last week’s Network News.

For the time being, wine in the UK looks set to stay in the conventional bottle, although the prevalence and popularity of the screw top shows us that things can change. This shift may just take a little longer than anticipated.

Author: Luke Catterson