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Tapping into taste preferences will soon change wine buying, says Justin Howard-Sneyd

Published:  14 January, 2014

Wine firms will start to make better use of consumer taste preferences to boost sales within the next year, says industry expert Justin Howard-Sneyd MW.

Justin Howard-Sneyd MWJustin Howard-Sneyd MWA better understanding of consumer taste preferences is on the horizon, and companies will soon be using it to their commercial gain, says Justin Howard-Sneyd MW, The Hive Consulting

Speaking to, Howard-Sneyd, Direct Wines former global wine director turned consultant and winemaker, said there is a lot of work going on into how consumers taste wine and how to tap into that to influence buying decisions. In the UK market, price has long been used as the major motivator for wine buying by the big retailers. But Howard-Sneyd predicted progress within the next couple of years in being able to use information on which wines consumers enjoy taste-wise for commercial gain. "There's a big time lag, identifying how something could be commercially viable and making it commercially viable are two different things. For a long time people wondered how to sell wine successfully online - internet sales are now a runaway train. Having a slow start doesn't mean it won't happen." He said we may see results before the end of 2014.

Howard-Sneyd has been working more internationally since his departure from his full-time role at Direct Wines - he still consults with them two days a week. He told Harpers that winemakers are continuing to find the UK market less attractive. "It's very hard to sell wine at a price you would want to. It's a very mature market and saturated - it's difficult to break into. There are still volumes at lower prices and encouraging signs in independents, but that's not particularly large volumes and you need to work very hard for that relatively small market."

Instead, he said producers are looking at the USA, Canada, the Nordic countries, Switzerland and Japan. In particular he highlighted that "there are many Asian countries whose potential we haven't seen yet - aside from Japan there's Taiwan and South Korea to consider - and the per litre consumption rate is only going to go up".

To read the full interview with Howard-Sneyd, click here.