The Wine Intelligence SOLA: Opportunities for Sustainable and Organic Wine 2021 report shows consumers are increasingly aware of sustainable and alternative wines, but the audience looking to purchase these wines has reduced in the Covid era
Has Covid changed our relationship with sustainable and organic wine? In general terms, concerns about climate change and buying local appear to be scoring highly amongst consumers in the Covid era. Amongst the range of sustainable wine types and which resonate most with drinkers, organic wine holds its #1 rank in our global opportunity index amongst alternative wine types. However within the data we are seeing some changes that may cause concern for the many wine businesses around the world that are dedicating time, effort and resources to migrating their production towards organic, sustainable and related disciplines.
The Wine Intelligence SOLA opportunity index is calculated using four consumer measures – awareness, intent to purchase, future consideration and affinity. Our data comes from surveys in 17 key wine markets amongst 17,000 wine drinkers conducted in October and November 2020. Our research shows that organic wine has much higher awareness levels than other alternative wine types; its strength arising from a high level of understanding about the concept of organic from other food and beverage categories. There is a particularly strong opportunity in the European markets of Sweden, France, Germany and Switzerland, where organic products are more present in general terms, and also more specifically in wine.
As with for the majority of sustainable wine types, awareness of organic wine has increased since 2019. However, this increase in awareness is countered by a decrease in consideration and affinity amongst consumers in the past 12 months, which is true for all alternative wine types, not just organic. The net effect is to decrease opportunity index scores for SOLA wines across the board. This suggests that although consumers are more aware of alternative wine types and sustainability in wine, they are not yet making the conscious decision to choose a sustainable wine over one without these credentials.
This observed year-on-year trend may relate to a broader finding that we have been tracking across almost all wine consumption markets in the Covid era: consumers are sticking with what they know and are shying away from experimentation and adventure. Since March 2020, when we started tracking the impact of Covid-19 on wine consumer behaviour, wine drinkers around the world have been consistently turning to wines they view as familiar, safe, trustworthy and reliable. We hypothesise that this could be either due to having less time to shop, and therefore making quick decisions when in the store, or consumers having less spare cash or fewer occasions to trial a new type of wine. The loss or severe restriction of the on-premise channel in many markets, taking with it the opportunity for hand-selling a non-traditional product, may also be playing a role.
There is also plenty of positive food for thought in our new research. For instance, we ran an experiment with our label testing survey method to see what effect different claims about a particular wine might have on intent to buy. What we found was that making a sustainability claim on a product’s label increases a consumer’s intent to purchase. When compared to a wine without any claim, displaying ‘organic’, ‘environmentally friendly’ or ‘sustainably produced’ on a wine label tends to have a positive impact on the intent to purchase. That said, it is interesting to note how these findings vary by market. ’Organic’, for example, has a much stronger impact in Sweden and Canada than in Australia and the UK. Also interesting to note is that almost half of wine consumers say they only trust the sustainability of wines if they have an official certification.
This report measures wine consumer attitudes towards 13 types of alternative wines, including organic, sustainably produced and environmentally friendly wine, amongst others. To do this, we surveyed over 17,000 regular wine drinkers across 17 markets, with the sample representative of approximately 313 million wine drinkers. In addition to a global overview and ranking of alternative wine types, this report also dives into a brief country-level analysis for each type of wine. We will also be publishing market-specific reports over the next few weeks.