Wine consumers appear to be caring more and spending more, while knowing less about the category
One of the key trends for 2020 is the shifting relationship consumers have with the category of wine. Despite falling levels of wine knowledge, the proportion of wine consumers who have high involvement in the category is rising across a number of major consumption markets.
Why is wine knowledge decreasing, when wine involvement is increasing? Our evidence points to the wonderful titled phenomena know as cognitive off-loading, which is our increasing reliance on the external environment in order to reduce our cognitive demand – put simply, reducing how much works our brains have to do in terms of things like remembering facts or even brands.
So why are we doing this? It’s driven by us having access to the most powerful memory aid we could have imagined – our smartphones. Gone are the days of needing to remember which brand or style we liked – simply look up the photo we have of the bottle we liked or Google it. Simple, and no energy expended on storing that knowledge in our busy and cluttered brains.
Positively for the wine category, consumers are, at the same time, becoming more wine involved, meaning that wine is playing an increasingly important role in their lives. In markets such as the US, Australia and Japan, involvement in wine in all three markets has increased since 2015.
The trend data also reveals something of a gender divide. Even though women have at least the same or even higher levels of wine knowledge as men, they are less involved in the category than their male counterparts all around world. And, contrary to popular belief , higher spending consumers do not have a higher wine knowledge than those who spend at lower price points. This is because, typically, higher spending wine drinkers are younger, those who have yet to build up their personal ‘library’ of wine knowledge which comes with time spent in the category. Older drinker may not be the highest per bottle spenders, but they’ve collected a broader range of wine knowledge through with wine experiences over the years.
So what does this mean for the wine in 2020? First up, consumers are more engaged with wine, but, they are also more engaged with cocktails, hard seltzer, spirits, craft beer and not forgetting adult non-alcoholic options too. This is especially true for Millennial consumers and our upcoming Gen Z drinkers. So although wine might appear to be winning in this dimension, the competition for ‘share of experience’ just got a lot tougher.
Second, ease of choice in our complex and somewhat baffling category has become even more important. In a new world where consumers are retaining less ‘facts’ about wine, the winners will be appealing, attractive and memorable brands and styles that deliver against value expectations – looks good, tastes good, makes me looks good and fits my budget and oh yes, available where I am in a format and serve size to suit my lifestyle.