Wine and Fruit - How wine can fit into a New Year’s resolution

Consumers are more interested than ever in wellbeing – one of the global consumer trends for 2013

As an alcoholic drink, wine faces some challenges from this trend, especially in January, when many consumers decide to go on diets, give up alcohol, and try to compensate for the excesses of the party season. But that doesn’t mean the future is all about bottled water.

The wine industry has good reason to fear the New Year – or, more specifically, New Year’s resolutions. For millions of people, January is a time of abstinence. After the Christmas excess, it’s time to get on the treadmill, lose a few pounds – and give up the demon drink (well, maybe for a week or two).

But while January is traditionally the grimmest month of the year for wine sales, the consumer’s desire to look after their health is not necessarily bad news for our industry. In any case, we need to get used to it, because it isn’t just confined to January. “Wellbeing” is one of nine global consumer trends identified for its effects are being felt all year round.

It’s why 12% of UK adults have gym membership, and why global sales of bottled water now stand at US$60 billion (a similar figure to the assets managed by Bain Capital), despite nearly 5 years of economic recession, austerity and falling real incomes.

While long-living western consumers aim for healthier lives, their counterparts in the developing world are demanding freedom from the health hazards they currently face. There are initiatives in China, for example, which involve everyday citizens highlighting food scandals via smartphone apps or with online databases.

The Chinese associate wine with health: it’s one of many reasons why the category is booming. In Wine Intelligence research, 56% of upper middle class imported wine drinkers said wine was good for them. Many believe it is beneficial for the skin, and promotes a good night’s sleep.

It would be a foolish wine marketer who made overt health claims about their product; indeed in many territories it would be illegal, or at least against agreed regulatory codes. But Chinese consumers recognise that wine is certainly less damaging to their health than the domestic spirits they once knocked back. It’s the same story in any part of the world where spirits are losing ground to wine.

But the “Wellbeing” trend is about more than this. We might not be able to say it in our marketing, but consumers across the world regard wine as a social drink – often with connotations of sophistication. Getting together with friends and colleagues, and sharing a few glasses over a meal, is a social ritual which makes people feel happy.

And that’s ignoring any of the studies that make claims about the medicinal benefits of wine. As part of a balanced lifestyle – which may well involve gym membership and a copious bottled water intake – wine drinking doesn’t have to be at odds with health concerns. Happy New Year!