Champagne and (Italian) Prosecco are making inroads into the Australian sparkling wine market, thanks to more adventurous younger consumers
In the 5-year period between 2013 and 2017, the total consumption of sparkling wine in the Australian market remained stable in terms of volume. However, the latest Wine Intelligence data on this market indicates that although domestic consumption of sparkling wine has decreased, volumes are maintained by imported sparkling wines, primarily those from France and Italy.
In fact, France, Champagne and Prosecco are the top three regions/countries of origin that Australian sparkling wine drinkers are aware of, surpassing the domestic region of Barossa Valley and near-by New Zealand in terms of the number of consumers that are aware of each region for the first time.
This report shows that imported sparkling wine is expected to continue growing in the Australian market. This growth is likely to come from a younger group of consumers who have a strong interest in the category and think sparkling wine is something important in their lifestyle. Although sparkling wine drinkers aged 18 to 34 only make up over a third (35%) of the sparkling wine drinking population in Australia, they account for over half of the monthly drinkers of imported sparkling wines such as French Champagne and Italian Prosecco.
These younger consumers show significantly higher interest in sparkling wine in comparison to their older counterparts, as well as reporting that sparkling wine is an important part of their lifestyle. They also enjoy trying new and different types of sparkling wine on a regular basis, following what is appearing to be a global trend of adventurous young consumers in multiple markets.
Additionally, younger consumers aged 25-34 are the segment most interested in alternative types of sparkling wine. Out of the options tested, sparkling wine with added fruit flavours holds the most interest, with non-alcoholic sparkling wine having the lowest interest. On the other end of the consumer age spectrum, significantly fewer sparkling drinkers aged 55 and older state that they would consider purchasing sparkling wine with fewer calories, lower sugar content or in a single serve can. This follows the trend that this age group is unlikely to deviate from drinking what they are aware of and confidently enjoy.
Another large piece of the Australian sparkling puzzle is the tension between Australia and Italy over the right for Australia to call their sparkling wine “Prosecco”. The Italian wine industry has been lobbying to have Prosecco recognised as a protected region of origin, in the same way as Champagne. Historically, the grape variety and the region carried the same name, until a series of EU-sanctioned legislation changes recognised the region of Prosecco and changed the grape variety name to Glera. However, Aussie winemakers are still using the “Prosecco” grape variety for their wines (ie the old varietal name), so they argue they have the right to put the word “Prosecco” on their bottles.
But, apart from discrepancies in the name, what are the differences in the product itself? The answer, from the consumer point of view anyway, is predictably complex. Aussie sparkling drinkers have reported that they spend a significantly higher amount on the Italian version when purchasing a bottle but rate the quality as statistically the same as the Australian version. When asked to choose imagery statements for each, consumers reported that Italian Prosecco is a more sophisticated drink, traditionally made and fashionable than Australian Prosecco. Australian Prosecco, however, is a better value for money and a better drink for informal situations.
More analysis can be found in the Sparkling Wine in the Australian Market 2018 report. Please contact Chuan@wineintelligence.com for more details.
Author: Haley Moser