According to our Japan Landscapes 2019 report, Japanese regular wine drinkers are displaying behaviours that present hopeful prospects to the category, though success will be more about value, less about volume
The Japanese wine market can often be overlooked in favour of other, larger Asian markets, such as China. Nevertheless, along with having higher per capita consumption and being much more established compared with other Asian markets, Japanese regular wine drinkers are also displaying behaviours that present hopeful prospects to the category. It is not news that Japan’s ageing population is a cause for concern, but despite the 55+ age group driving the market, a significantly higher proportion of consumers claim high involvement in the wine category compared with 2014, which is primarily driven by younger Japanese regular wine drinkers.
Like many markets, a current hot topic involves how younger and older wine consumers differ in their wine behaviours and attitudes. While quantitative and qualitative data points to younger people consuming less alcohol in general, younger Japanese regular wine consumers are open-minded towards wine, shown by the higher proportion of wine drinkers aged 20-34 claiming that they enjoy trying different styles of wine compared with all Japanese regular wine drinkers. Additionally, they are more likely to have a broader white and red varietal repertoire, which can provide opportunity for less dominant varietals or brands who are looking to build their presence within the category.
Red wine remains the preferred alcoholic beverage of choice amongst all Japanese consumers, with beer and white wine following close behind. Chilean wines also continue to have strong success in the market, holding 22% of the volume share according to data collected by IWSR. In line with volume growth, there has been a significant increase in the proportion of drinkers who claim they have drunk Chilean wine. Strongly visual wine brands, such as Alpaca, Santa and Pudú, continue to perform strongly in the market. However, several trade interviewees suggest that the inexpensive Chilean wine fad may be fading out, as consumers are starting to trade up for mid-range Chilean wine brands such as Casillero del Diablo, causing lower-priced Chilean brands to struggle entering the premium category.
In addition to the issue of Japan’s ageing population, the wine market faces increasing pressure from other categories, particularly Ready-to-Drink beverages (RTDs), beer and sake. The effects of the recent EU-Japan economic partnership agreement (EPA) also presents uncertainty as it can be both positive and negative for domestic wine producers who may struggle in Japan, but may thrive on a global scale now that they can export to other EU countries. For more information on the trade agreement see our previous Network News article Another Sun Rises. Nonetheless, the positive news is that opportunity lies ahead as the 2019 Rugby World Cup and 2020 Olympics in Tokyo draw near, offering a significant boost in tourism and major growth to the category.
For more information, please see Wine Intelligence Japan Landscapes 2019.
Author: Emily Carroll