As wine consumption in the UK declines, gin consumption has been steadily increasing. Are these trends connected?
It is not news that wine consumption in the UK has been on the decline over the past few years. Since 2014, the volume of nine litre cases of wine has decreased by approximately 11 million (122m 9L in 2014 to 111m 9L in 2018 – source IWSR). Similarly, the average adult Brit consumed around 22 litres of wine per year in 2014, but 19.5 litres in 2018 (source IWSR). But are UK wine drinkers just not drinking as much alcohol as they were a few years ago, or have they switched to other alcoholic drinks instead of wine?
The short answer is that both factors are affecting wine consumption. We are currently seeing a global trend of moderation, led by younger consumers, as regular wine drinkers (those who drink wine at least once a month) are purposefully decreasing their alcohol consumption for a variety of reasons (which was discussed in our recent article Mocktail Anyone?). But we are also seeing a trend of category switching as other alcoholic categories are growing and becoming more dominant competitors for wine. This is particularly strong in the UK with one drink in particular: gin.
For the latest UK Landscapes 2019 report, Wine Intelligence investigated the overlap between UK monthly wine drinkers and gin, collecting consumer data in October 2019 on gin consumption by occasion, spend and channels of purchase. Our data indicates that gin is now the top 5th most popular drink amongst UK regular wine drinkers, following white wine (1st), red wine (2nd), beer (3rd) and Prosecco (4th). UK wine consumers’ increasing adoption of gin has been growing, shown by a significant increase in the proportion of UK regular wine drinkers who are enjoying gin, rising from 31% in 2015 to 50% in 2019. According to trade experts interviewed for the report, gin’s wide popularity in the UK can be attributed to its versatility, its simplicity and its regional and domestic nature.
And it isn’t just UK regular wine drinkers who are gravitating towards the beverage. Gin is the spirit most frequently consumed by UK spirits drinkers*, with just under half drinking it on a monthly basis, compared with pink gin (27%) and vodka (35%). However, the real differences lie in the different consumer groups of gin. Amongst gin drinkers, women aged 18-34 are most likely to drink it at least once a month (62%) compared with older women and men of all ages. When it comes to pink gin however, the story is quite different, with findings showing that the emergence of this newer, smaller gin category is primarily driven by younger men. More specifically, although pink gin is consumed on a less frequent basis compared with regular gin, 34% of Millennial men drink pink gin on a weekly basis (34%) compared with 16% of Millennial women enjoy pink gin weekly or more often, and the 9% of women who consume pink gin overall.
While the main gin drinking occasion is at home without food, UK spirits drinkers are increasingly embracing celebratory occasions with gin, with at least a third of drinkers consuming gin and pink gin on special occasions both at home or in the on-trade at least once a year. The evidence clearly shows that UK drinkers, including wine drinkers, are moving away from standard celebratory drinks and more towards gin for special occasions, seen by the stagnation in the proportion of regular wine drinkers consuming Champagne and Prosecco, and the rise in those drinking gin.
As many in our sector have suspected, a key issue for the wine category in the UK is that gin in general (including pink gin) has a significant hold in amongst younger consumers, who are developing their long-term drinking patterns. Given that our previous analysis shows that the UK wine volumes are being propped up by the over 55s (who we now know are also are less likely to drink gin), this paints a rather concerning picture for the long-term health of wine volumes in the UK. For more information on the Gin Boom and its impact on the UK wine market, please see UK Landscapes 2019.
*All spirits drinkers in the UK are defined as those who have consumed gin, pink gin, vodka, rum, Scotch whisky, Irish whiskey and / or American Whiskey / Bourbon in the past 12 months. For more information, please refer to the methodology section of UK Landscapes 2019.
Authors: Irene Dell’Adami De Tarczal & Courtney Abernathy