Australia’s wine consumers are continuing to enjoy a regular glass of wine during the national coronavirus shutdown, but spending less per bottle than usual, according to a new report published tomorrow (24 April) from Wine Intelligence.
Based on a survey of 1,000 Australian monthly wine drinkers conducted during the last week of March and the first week of April, as social distancing rules and then lockdown was put into effect by the Australian government, the data suggests that Australians are replacing their old social drinking occasions with regular online interactions with friends and wine occasions with those in their household.
The timing of the survey coincided with a period when new behaviours and norms were being established by households across the nation. Survey questions probed how people were interacting with wine, but also around broader attitudes – to other alcoholic beverages, to social and travel activities after lockdown, and to financial and lifestyle priorities.
A more detailed examination of the data suggests that Australian wine consumers are torn between maintaining normal behaviour patterns and acknowledging the major changes to lifestyles and economic prospects. On one level, it seems to be a case of ‘keep calm and carry on’: wine drinking is holding up, with old social occasions in pubs, restaurants and other people’s houses replaced by more intimate family events or online socialising. Those in Gen X (aged 40-54) increased their frequency of wine drinking during the lockdown period with those in Gen Z, the youngest cohort, reducing their frequency of wine drinking the most [see chart, below].
On another level, caution about the economy and the state of the world post-pandemic is clearly affecting sentiment. Spend per bottle of wine for home consumption is down, with wine drinkers in Australia reducing their typical spend for all at-home occasions, and particularly for the most frequent occasion of a relaxing drink or informal meal at home. There is also understandable caution about the extent to which normal social activities, vacations and events will be accessible in the immediate aftermath of lockdown.
Looking further ahead, consumers are expressing a mix of optimism, prudence and more caution. The most salient priority appears to be saving money (a higher priority than before for around 4 in 10 respondents), and there’s less appetite for big lifestyle changes or business travel.
More encouraging for the wine category, around 25% of those polled appear determined to live life to the full once they are permitted to do so – treating themselves to something luxurious, trying new styles of food and drink, and buying more expensive wines once the pandemic has passed.
Commenting on the report, Wine Intelligence CEO Lulie Halstead said: “It’s clear that Australia’s wine consumers are still feeling their way into a new pattern of behaviour. Our evidence suggests that wine is still an important part of people’s lives, but they are showing some understandable caution about finances given all the uncertainties caused by the pandemic.”
She added: “It’s encouraging to see that some consumers are actively planning on living life to the full once they are allowed to do so, and they tend to be those people who are already highly involved in wine, which will provide some reassurance to wine producers.”