Whilst French- and German-speaking consumers maintain distinct relationships with wine, wine involvement is increasing across the board in Switzerland
Despite a long-term trend in declining wine volume consumption, Switzerland remains an attractive wine market globally, driven by high average bottle prices. Switzerland has also long cultivated a reputation on the global stage as a place where things move slowly and steadily, and where cultural norms remain consistent.
When it comes to the wine category, the cultural stereotype largely holds true: the market for wine tends to move at a slow pace and consumption norms do not shift fundamentally from year to year. However, Swiss wine drinkers are starting to exhibit change, albeit at a slow pace. A shorter-term trend, driven by the impact of Covid-19 is that wine consumers in Switzerland increasingly turned to known, safer and ‘local’ wine during the pandemic, with a view amongst the trade that this sentiment is shared by not just the more involved consumers, but also by the regular wine drinking population as a whole.
Wine Intelligence consumer tracking data shows that Swiss consumers have a relatively traditional approach to wine, with a strong preference for wines from neighbouring France and Italy, a focus on food and wine pairing and traditional cork closures. However, Prosecco is the only region to experience significant growth in purchase recall in the long term amongst regular wine drinkers in Switzerland whilst consumption of wine from other regions remains stable or has declined.
Within Switzerland, the two distinct groups of consumers – French-speaking and German-speaking maintain their distinct and different relationship with the category.
French-speaking regular wine drinkers are generally more involved in the wine category, drink wine more frequently and are more adventurous with their wine choices. These drinkers also typically consider country and region of origin as well as expert validation to be particularly important when buying wine. By contrast, German-speaking drinkers have a tendency to drink wine less frequently than their French-speaking counterparts.
One thing the two groups do agree on is their broader relationship with the wine category. Both have similar levels of involvement with wine, and this involvement has been steadily growing over the past few years. While the French speakers appear to be more likely to see wine as an important cultural element in their lifestyle, the German speakers are more likely to agree that wine is reasonably priced. Growing involvement levels normally signal, or reflect, growing premiumisation within a given market, and Switzerland is no exception. Recalled spend on wine has risen in both the on- and off-premise, in the context of a market where inflation is typically close to zero.
As with other markets, there is a growing divide between younger and older drinkers. Older drinkers have a higher level of wine knowledge, not surprisingly based on the depth of their experience with the wine category, and younger drinkers (of LDA) profess to be more adventurous and discovery-oriented.