Six things you need to know about the French market for sparkling wine, according to Wine Intelligence’s Avignon office
Back in 2017 France ranked third in the world for sparkling wine consumption, just behind Germany and Italy.* It seemed to be the market to watch, as about 39 million French adults claimed to drink sparkling wine, with many of them reporting that they consume around 6.6 litres per year on average (equal to about nine 75cl bottles of sparkling wine). Since 2016, the Wine Intelligence French team, based in Avignon, have been keeping a close eye on this market and its development.
Despite its high rank in 2017, sparkling wine consumption volumes have been on a slightly declining slope between 2013 and 2017 (-1% CAGR per year*). But even though the amount of consumption has decreased, the imported wine category saw growth from a small base within this time period, with Cava and Prosecco leading the way. Last year, French supermarkets and hypermarkets sold 7.8 million bottles of Cava and 6.7 million of Prosecco**.
Things are certainly moving in the subcategory of sparkling wine in the French market. For instance, some sparkling wines are doing well while others are struggling. But why is there such a difference amongst sparkling wines and brand perceptions?
Price and taste of course come into play when assessing how well a sparkling wine performs. But brand imagery and recognition are also important, driven by appellations and brands. Because of this, our Sparkling Wine in the French Market 2019 report seeks to explore how French consumers behave in the sparkling wine category. To achieve this, we conducted a complete region health check by measuring prompted awareness and penetration rates of 22 sparkling wines. We also focused on measuring the performance of brand imagery of the top AOC sparkling wines in France (Champagne, Clairette de Die, Crémant de Bourgogne, Crémant d’Alsace, Blanquette/Crémant de Limoux, Cava and Prosecco), in order to asses how they position themselves in the market and the differences between them.
Overall, six of the main takeaways are as follows:
- Growth in the French sparkling wine market is coming from imported wine brands, with these brands growing at a steady pace of +22% per year between 2013 and 2017
As mentioned above, the overall consumption of sparkling wine is on the decline in France – except for imported sparkling wine brands, namely Cava and Prosecco.
- Champagne remains a dominant brand, but its price-perceptions have deteriorated
No surprise that Champagne dominates the category (prompted awareness 88%, consumption penetration 76%) with associations revolving around a very high-end drink that delivers social status and prestige. However, it is increasingly perceived as being too expensive and a growing number of consumers state they ‘often’ buy it on special offer.
- Crémant d’Alsace solidifying its position in the top sparkling wine appellations (other than Champagne)
Crémant d’Alsace enjoys high awareness and purchase conversion rates. Its imagery profile has improved between 2016 and 2018 and is primarily based on perceptions of high-quality wines, traditional know-how and good value for money. Its challenger, Crémant de Bourgogne, shares a similar position, but with lower imagery scores, while The Clairette / Crémant de Die is positioned as a ‘timeless’ appellation and conveys the thought of traditional know-how and good value for money.
- Prosecco continues to grow
All region health measures for Prosecco have increased since 2017. Although it only ranks 11th for prompted awareness, it is fifth for purchase penetration, fourth for consumption penetration, and second for intent to buy in the future. Prosecco is primarily perceived as delivering good quality wines that one could drink for pleasure during an informal occasion with family and friends. Also important: Prosecco has the highest penetration for the ‘cocktail’ context, with one in four of those aware of these wines associating the drink with creativity and innovation.
- Moët & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot and Nicolas Feuillatte are the most powerful Champagne brands
Moët & Chandon ranks first in regional health measures such as prompted awareness, affinity, recommendations, proud to serve – all but purchase conversion (where Nicolas Feuillatte ranks first). Veuve Clicquot is second on the Brand Power Index, driven by high awareness and consistently ranking in the top five for all other measures. Similarly, Nicolas Feuillatte ranks third as its awareness levels are moderate, but its position increases with its high conversion – it also performs very well on intent to buy.
- Awareness is not enough for AOC brands (other than Champagne)
When looking at brands other than Champagne, Martini and Charles Volner rank best in our Brand Power Index. They are driven by high awareness and penetration rates. However, they are not rated as highly on other measures. Less well-known brands such as Wolberger and Jaillance rank in the top 5 brands, especially because they command high affinity and proudness to serve.
For more information on sparkling wine in the French market, the report is now available in French. To purchase the English version (at a slightly higher price – four report credits vs three), please contact Emily Carroll.
*Source: IWSR 2018 data
** Source : IRI dans Rayon Boissons, CUM at 12/08/2018
Author: Jean-Philippe Perrouty, France Country Manager