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Wine Consumer Trends in the COVID-19 Era

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Wine enjoying mini-boom in the Covid-19 era, but dark economic clouds on horizon 

Wine drinkers across key consumption markets have been turning more often to wine as a beverage  during the Covid-19 pandemic, spurred by new ‘lockdown’ occasions and more drinking outside of  mealtimes, according to a new report that will be published Monday, October 5th 2020.  

Wine Consumer Trends in the Covid-19 Era draws on tracking data collected from nationally  representative samples of wine drinkers in seven major wine consumption markets in April and  August 2020.  

The growth in wine consumption occasions comes as online sales of wine have exploded in markets  where regulations permitted this channel, with younger and more involved wine drinkers leading the  surge. 

However, some of the data will raise concerns about the sustainability of this growth, given the  deteriorating economic environment and possible pressure on household finances in the coming  months. So far, many consumers have traded down in terms of their spend per bottle of wine to  fund the increasing volume of purchase, and have returned to more mainstream, trusted brands at  the expense of less well known and more pricey offerings.  

Consumer responses about their broader economic behaviour also indicate a general tightening of  belts will occur during the coming months, with household savings prioritised ahead of any large  purchases, and the motivation to spend on luxuries, which initially surged in the early weeks of  lockdown, has now subsided. 

In most markets, the future of the on-premise channel and hospitality generally looks very  uncertain. An increasing proportion of wine drinkers are not planning on going out to eat for the  foreseeable future, and holidays and hotel stays are off the agenda for most. The only exceptions to  this are in China and Germany, where popular opinion is more positive about these activities, and  consumers appear more confident generally.  

Commenting on the report, Wine Intelligence CEO Lulie Halstead said: “Our data earlier this year  pointed to wine being one of the winners of lockdown, and this trend has solidified over the past  few months. Producers and off-premise retailers with strategies focused on their heartland of high involved, frequent drinkers have found reward, while new occasions have prompted a different  dynamic in terms of product and packaging. 

“The worry for our category remains the extent and longevity of the economic downturn. Household  finances across many markets are currently benefiting combination of job retention schemes and  lack of spending on vacations and going out, but this may not last. The broader issue of consumer  confidence in the economy, and in their own safety, may start to weigh on the category in 2021.” 

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