Wine Consumption Behaviors (Impact of COVID-19) & Trends

Wine Consumption Behaviors: Gen X

Affluent Gen X consumers have distinct consumption behaviors such as brand loyalty, desire for quality and authenticity, and reliance on online research, among others. A comprehensive coverage of the behaviors is presented below.

  • Most Generation X consumers are in the affluence curve characterized by more disposable income and orientation to spend on interests. Thus, the generation is leading in the sales of premium-priced wines.
  • Affluent Gen X consumers mainly learn about the different wines through traditional cues such as visiting wineries, being members of active wine club, attending wine events, and supplementing their wine knowledge through professional and unprofessional means.
  • The consumers also gather wine information through traditional media mastheads, but digitally. Although brand storytelling and experience are vital for Gen X consumers, many are ready to go a step further to investigate the story behind the brands.
  • Affluent Gen X consumers are likely to purchase imported wines. They are also more attentive to wine formats and cross-category purchasing. They are ready to pay high prices for high-quality wine.
  • The consumers are also very loyal to wine brands that meet their needs. To achieve that, they normally like unearthing the why and where of a brand. They are also ready to express their contentment with a brand to their peers.
  • Gen X consumers mainly drinks wine at home, commonly with a meal. Thus, they go for wine brands that match specific recipes. The consumers mainly depend on online research when researching about their wine selection, recipe choices, and restaurants.
  • Affluent Gen X consumers are ready to spend a huge amount of money on a wine bottle more than once in a month. They also like growing their wine cellars and maximizing on their winery membership club status.
  • Unlike other generations, the consumers buy a particular wine brand guided by their established tastes and authenticity. Thus, they do not follow the industry trends.
  • In the tasting rooms, affluent Gen X consumers are keen to go through the tasting and educational aspect before buying. They are also skeptical in their approach to new wine brands.

Wine Consumption Behaviors: Millennials

After an extensive search through industry-related websites and media platforms, details about the wine consumption behaviors of affluent millennials in the United States do not appear to be available in the public domain. However, the research team was able to gather valuable insights, which have been provided below.

Useful Findings

  • According to Wine Intelligence, out of all generation groups, US millennials are the least likely to drink wine daily as they spend more money and time on lifestyle and health activities. In addition, their alcoholic beverage portfolio is broad and includes hard seltzer, hard cider, spirits, and craft beer.
  • Thirty percent of millennials who frequently drink wine do so at least three times a week. In a sitting, the age group drinks at least three glasses.
  • Many wineries are targeting millennials by offering the group wine tasting experiences on their properties and hosting events such pool parties and comedy nights. Examples of such wineries include Long Meadow Ranch, which “hosts a guest chef farm-to-table dinner series, and Hamel Family Wines in Sonoma, California includes a food pairing and customized spittoons with wine tastings.”
  • According to a study by Mintel, 28% of young millennials have a preference of drinking wine in at home because it is relaxing and cheaper. Also, the study revealed that “while 30% of millennials increased their wine consumption, 21% reported drinking less.”
  • Millennials are friend-oriented and view wine as being a relaxing and fun beverage that creates a good ambiance with family and friends. Therefore, they prefer sharing their wine experiences with people in their social circles in different ways.
  • Millennials look for connection and authenticity and wine is viewed as the perfect pairing especially when it comes to casual get-togethers. In addition to hosting their friends, millennials share texts, look at wine apps, rate wines, and post pictures on social media.
  • According to numerous studies, millennials are inexperienced and uninformed wine consumers. Therefore, they make their purchasing decisions based on the packaging. “Wine label design plays a significant role in 89.7% of millennials’ wine purchase decisions.”

Wine Trends: Innovation and Disruption

Packaging innovations and use of near field communications (NFC) technology are trends related to consumer-facing innovations in the US wine industry. The requested information about the trends is presented below.

Packaging Innovations

  • Innovative packaging is a consumer-facing innovation in the ever-changing wine industry in the United States. The packaging overhaul trend is spurred by the increased domestic wine consumption in the United States.
  • Wine has evolved into a meal time staple in restaurants and homes in the US. As result, wine sales have increased leading to innovations in packaging designs.
  • For a long time, glass has been the primary packaging medium. However, alternatives are emerging from aseptic cartons, plastic bottles, cans, bag-in-box, and pouches.
  • Millennials are the newest round of wine takers in the US owing to their improved disposable income. Their desire for a more appealing and non-traditional packaging is driving the trend. The generation is less attracted by the glass bottle and are ready to try alternative packaging designs.
  • As a result, companies are embracing innovations in packaging to ride the growing trend. One of the companies at the forefront of this trend is Drop Wine.
  • The company’s innovative canned packaging contains a sliding snap clip. The design is aimed at appealing to the millennials who are drawn to conveniently canned wine products because they can be enjoyed on the go.
  • Another company at the forefront of this trend is Bota Box. The company has leveraged alternative packaging such as small-format cartons ad bag-in-box wine to increase demand.

Using Near Field Communications (NFC) Technology to Communicate with Customers

  • Another customer-facing innovation in the US wine industry is use of NFC to communicate to and with customers. Players in the wine industry are leveraging the technology to improve loyalty, affinity, and communicate salient facts about their wine brands.
  • Wine brands with a strong retail footprint are using NFC-enabled corks, labels, capsules, and screw caps to communicate with the end customer directly about their brand story. Using NFC, wine companies can send customized messages to customers in a timely, pertinent, and economical format.
  • The contemporary wine shopper is looking for flavorful offerings. With NFC, they only need to hover their smartphone over the NFC and get all the information they need.
  • Use of NFC technology trend is spurred by the modern customer’s desire to obtain information about the product they want to buy. With the technology wine companies can easily avail the information to the customer at their request.
  • One of the companies at the forefront of this trend is Copper Cane Wines and Provisions. The NFC technology is used in its Boen wine brand. By tapping on the cap, consumers can obtain information about food pairing, wine making procedures and locations, and social media element.
  • Another company at the forefront of NFC technology is Balboa Winery. The company uses labels with NFC chips, which customers can utilize to obtain information about the brand.

Wine Consumer Behaviors: Impact of COVID-19

Wine remains a beneficiary of COVID-19 restrictions as consumers in the US increasingly enjoy local wine to relax better. These consumers are also now turning to online channels to buy wine. Americans who make on-trade wine purchases – either as take out or delivery – opt for larger bottles of wine.
Please note that while the research team attempted focusing on how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted wine consumption behaviors in recent months, data was only found on wine consumption behaviors between March to June 2020.

1. Increase in Wine Drinking Occasions

  • Americans who drink wine regularly increased their wine drinking occasions during the lockdown. In March 2020, wine drinkers consumed wine 9.7 times monthly, on average, compared to 9.3 times a month in October 2019.
  • Wine consumption particularly increased during “casual at-home non-food occasions” such as drinking while catching up with family or friends online.
  • Statista cited a study showing the frequency of wine consumption at certain occasions in the US between March to April 2020. About 42% of respondents reported that they drink wine at least once a week when catching up with friends or family online or on the phone.
  • Up to 37% of respondents mentioned that they drink wine at least twice a week when having lunch or dinner, while 47% drink wine at least once a week outside of meal times.

2. Surge in Wine Purchases

  • Between March to April 2020, there was a surge in off-trade wine purchases as bars and restaurants were closed. Wine drinkers in states like Florida and California increased their wine consumption.
  • During the lockdown, there was a slight decrease in the average price per wine bottle paid in the US. However, there was an increase in wine spend per bottle among younger and more committed wine drinkers.
  • These drinkers who typically spend $15 to $20 on a bottle of wine, spent a bit more than that during the pandemic, while Americans who drink wine less frequently spent a bit less on wine.

3. Online Versus Offline Channels

  • As a result of COVID-19 containment measures, there was a substantial increase in the use of online channels to buy wine. Although US wine drinkers bought less wine from channels such as supermarkets and wine stores, they shopped for more wine via online channels. Gen Xers were at the forefront of the online wine purchasing trend during the lockdown.
  • Post COVID-19 restrictions, one study showed that 30% of US consumers stated that they would still be more likely to purchase wine online, compared to 20% who reported that they would be less likely to buy wine online.
  • Younger, urban, affluent consumers tend to purchase wine via online channels the most. This same demographic, who in “normal times are more likely to drink wine in social settings such as bars and restaurants, also tended to spend more on take-home purchases.”

4. Wine Type

  • Before COVID-19, red wine was the preferred wine among most US wine drinkers. During the pandemic, 27% of wine drinkers reported consuming red wine more often, compared to 22% who consume white wine more often. About 14% stated that they consume white wine less often during the pandemic. American Consumer Wine TypeSource
  • Since the pandemic, more wine drinkers have been opting for larger bottles of wine and boxed wine. A study by Nielsen revealed that boxed wine saw a 44% growth from March to April 2020, compared to a 5% growth prior to the pandemic. This trend is particularly common among wine drinkers who buy wine off premise. Wine Drinking
  • The study also showed that over 50% of wine drinkers – those who ordered table or sparkling wine with takeout or delivery – opted for 750ml bottles from March to April 2020.

5. Wine Origin

  • Although the majority of US consumers remained loyal to their “existing country of origin repertoire,” during the lockdown, wine produced locally gained more trust, while wine produced in Italy and France lost market share.
  • In one survey, at least seven in ten respondents had not changed how they shop for wine in reference to its origin, while almost 20% shared that they were purchasing more California wine, and 13% reported that they were actively buying more wine in general across the US.
  • Two in ten respondents stated that they were buying less wine from countries like Spain, France, and Italy.

6. Motivations for Drinking Wine During COVID19

  • When asked why they drink wine during the pandemic, about 20% of US wine drinkers stated that they enjoy the taste, with 17% saying that it goes well with food, and another 17% mentioning that it helps them relax.
  • Up to 12% identified “to indulge myself” as a main motivation for wine consumption, while 9% asserted that they drink wine to socialize with friends.
  • Only 5% selected “because I am bored,” “to help me sleep,” or “to distract myself from problem” as their main reason for drinking wine during the pandemic.

7. Future Plans

  • Wine drinkers in the US anticipate drinking more wine in the future, albeit saying that they will socialize less in the future.
  • About 20% of wine drinkers in the US stated that they are more likely to travel and go for events in the future, while 40% disagreed and stated that they are less likely to participate in these activities.
  • US wine drinkers are focused on saving more in the future and spending less. This is a much higher priority among younger Gen Z wine drinkers.
  • Of particular note is the 25% of respondents who think treating themselves to better quality wine will be a priority in the future.
Glenn is the Lead Operations Research Analyst at The Digital Momentum with experience in research, statistical data analysis and interview techniques. A holder of degree in Economics. A true specialist in quantitative and qualitative research.

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