Wine drinkers in Japan have cut their wine consumption more than their western counterparts, but seem more inclined to return to business-as-usual once restrictions end
With the publication of our tenth market report in the Covid-19 Impact series – Japan, out tomorrow – we can step back and take stock of some patterns we have seen emerging throughout the major global markets that we have covered.
While we have seen similar stories among wine drinkers everywhere – understandable shock, sudden changes in behaviour, confusion and anxiety – the way these responses have manifested in terms of their relationship with the wine category has shown some interesting geographical patterns see also the related story about Netherlands, Germany and Sweden.
Japan’s experience with the coronavirus has been more of a political rollercoaster compared with its near neighbours South Korea and China. However, the impact on Japanese wine consumer behaviour of the pandemic, and associated restrictions, shows a lot of similarities to wine consumers in neighbouring Asian countries, and some contrasts to English-speaking countries.
Japanese consumers of wine reduced their consumption during the lockdown period, mainly foregoing sparkling wines, and spent less per bottle on the wines they did buy. The lack of formal or social occasions seems to be the biggest driver of reduction, and drinking less wine seems to have been a widespread trend, independent of age, gender or connection with the wine category.
This conservatism about how they behave now is in stark contrast to their views about behaviour in the future. The data suggests that Japanese consumers are, on the whole, quite optimistic about their return to a pre-virus lifestyle. Over 4 in 10 say they will be more likely to visit a restaurant when they are allowed to do so, and a similar proportion say they plan to go on vacation within Japan once restrictions are eased.
This self-imposed restriction on behaviour today combined with optimism about the future aligns Japan with South Korea and China, both of which have shown a similar pattern. The Asian trio stand in stark contrast to the English-speaking markets of UK, US, Australia and Canada. In these markets, buying during lockdown saw a significant boost, but consumers are saying they are quite reluctant to go back to social drinking and eating out.