As the Netherlands emerges from the coronavirus, the long term pattern of drinking less wine, thinking more about health, and spending more per bottle, looks like it’s being re-established
In common with its neighbours in Germany and Belgium, wine drinkers in the Netherlands have struggled to see wine as a premium product. For many years, the idea of spending €5 or more on a bottle of wine in the supermarket was seen as an occasional and unusual behaviour.
However, the past five years has seen a sustained change in Dutch wine drinking habits. Spend levels in the off-premise have seen a sustained increase across all occasions. For the key ‘informal – with food’ occasion, recalled spend per bottle has risen from €4.53 to €5.49 since 2014, a rise of 21%. At the same time, frequency of consumption and wine volumes have experienced consistent declines. The Netherlands has joined the global trend of drinking less, but drinking better.
The recent disruption and economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic has shaken up consumer behaviour slightly – but not as much as might have been expected. Predictably, on-trade occasions have fallen off a cliff, but much of the volume loss has shifted to off-premise channels, with the e-commerce channel the biggest beneficiary. Occasions for wine consumption at home have also experienced a small decline, which will feed into wine volume decline overall. According to our Covid-19 Impact Report, spend per bottle has been maintained, so the long-term trend of drinking less and spending more would appear to be continuing.
Dutch wine drinkers have also become more aligned with other global trends. Thanks in part to a reduction in duty on sparkling wines instituted in 2017, the Netherlands has seen a rise in sparkling wine consumption, up by 12% since 2015, with the market remaining dominated by Prosecco (55% of volumes) but the recent duty change seemingly most benefiting Cava, which is up by 22% since 2017.
Wine is also struggling to compete among other alcoholic beverage categories. The portfolio of drinks also used by wine drinkers has shifted markedly in recent years, with beer, vodka and gin becoming more important parts of drinker portfolios since 2014. In particular, gin has shot up from 7% incidence to 20% usage incidence among wine drinkers over that period.
Another long-run trend among Dutch wine drinkers is an increasing concern about alcohol levels. Those citing ‘alcohol content’ as an important, or very important, purchase decision cue has risen from 22% in 2014 to 31% in 2020. The main change in this attitude seems to be coming from consumers under the age of 35, suggesting that this trend will be present in market for some time to come.
The long-term effects of Covid-19 are yet to be seen, though trade experts believe that the e-commerce channel will continue to grow, along with the opportunities to sell premium wine. The Dutch consumer is not traditionally know for splashing out on wine, but are starting to regard it as a product to spend more on – even as they shop for it less often.