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Over 40% of Brits will buy wine online this Christmas, says Harpers new e-commerce report

Published:  05 December, 2014



Over 40% of Brits will buy their Christmas wine online this year, according to a new report published today by Harpers Wine & Spirit.

One if four Brits have bought wine online in the last yearOne of four Brits have bought wine online in the last yearHarpers new e-commerce report analyses the behaviour of shoppers online when buying wine by age-group and across all regions of the country

Over 40% of Brits will buy their Christmas wine online this year, according to a new report published today by Harpers Wine & Spirit.

The findings are further evidence of the growing importance of online retailing with some £400 million spent on food and drink products every month.

The report shows that online retail spending is currently growing five times faster than in traditional bricks and mortar retailers.

Over the next five years Harpers predicts online wine sales will double its share of the total off-trade wine market by volume going from 7.1% in 2014 to 14.3% in 2019.

Harpers estimates some 10 million shoppers, one in four, have bought wine online in the last year and that figure is set to rise dramatically in the next five years.

The study, Demystifying E-Commerce: Strategies for growth in UK Online Wine Retailing. polled over 1,000 consumers across all age-groups in each region of the country. It found that online buyers spend more on wine than they do in high street retailers. Twenty per cent said they spent more than £50 a month on wine online compared to 17% that spend that much in retailers.

Richard Siddle, editor of Harpers Wine & Spirit, said of the findings: "Wine is now the preferred drink for a large number of people in the UK and our report shows that for them online is becoming the best value, most convenient way for them to buy it. Faced with the prospect of lugging a heavy bottle or two of wine home, more of us are choosing to simply go online and get it delivered to our door."

He added: "With spending online growing at five times the speed of the high street, we predict wine will become one of the biggest success stories for online retailing in the next five years."

Other key findings in the report include:

  • 35% of online shoppers spend over £100 a month on groceries and 17% spend over £200 a month.

  • 37% of 25-34 year olds have bought wine online in the last year, compared to 17% of 55-64 year olds.

  • But the 65+ age group is particularly lucrative area for online wine retailers as not only do 10% use the internet as their normal shopping channel to buy wine, 28% are prepared to spend more than £10 on a bottle of wine when they do showing the importance of the "grey pound".

  • 33% of shoppers only buy wine online when it is on promotion.

  • 42% of shoppers said they buy wine online specifically for Christmas or another special occasion.

  • Only 38% of online shoppers buy their wine from the Big 3 multiples, Tesco, Sainsbury's and Asda compared to 71% of high street shoppers.

  • Online is the second most popular channel for people buy wine, behind supermarkets, and ahead of off-licences

Online wine retailers need to work harder at recruiting women. Not only do fewer women shop online for wine than men, but those that do typically spend conservatively. Nearly 30% of women spend less than £20 on wine online a month compared to 13% of men. But the opportunity is there with 21% of women who have bought wine online think there is a better choice than in supermarkets.

Seven per cent of men said they regularly shopped for wine online compared to 3% of women.  A third of British men have used the internet to buy wine over the past year compared to less than a fifth of women.

The report goes on to highlight:

 10 reasons why the Internet could be the saviour of the UK wine market.

Harpers new e-commerce report analyses the behaviour of shoppers online when buying wine by age-group and across all regions of the country

  • Consumers who buy wine on the Internet spend more than consumers who buy wine in bricks-&-mortar retailers. 20% spend £50+ a month online, versus 17% who spend that amount in the supermarkets. 

  • 46% of British adults have shopped online for groceries in the past year versus 26% who have shopped online for wine. This disparity is a clear indicator of wine's growth potential as an e-commerce category

  • The big supermarket and discounter chains are ramping up their e-commerce positions. This will trigger a new surge in e-commerce grocery shopping, and wine is sure to benefit.

  • The Internet giant Amazon is beefing up its wine participation. This could trigger a new wave of digital innovation in Internet wine retailing, as smaller players look to compete with Amazon's powerful consumer engagement model 

  • As e-commerce delivery times get faster and as the process of online shopping gets hassle-free, so Internet retail spending on wine will inevitably climb. Related to this, the culture of buying wine by the case will grow.

  • A burgeoning appetite for shopping on mobile phones and tablets - driven by increasingly sophisticated apps - will push up wine sales further, not least by increasing the occasions for buying wine.

  • The 65+ age group is the fastest growing demographic for Internet connectivity and a key consumer base for e-commerce wine. These 'grey pound' consumers account for 17% of the UK population, a share that will rise to 19% by 2020 and 22% by 2030.

  • London has huge untapped e-commerce wine potential. Its drinking age population is around 12 million, but less than 1% currently use the Internet to buy wine on a regular basis. By increasing that share to 5%, which is a viable short-term target, the number of the capital's regular online wine shoppers would increase by around half a million.

  • Wine has long needed a more bespoke approach to marketing as a way to recruit new consumers. The Internet - and social media in particular - is the perfect partner for building stronger connections with the UK's myriad different consumers.

  • Women are yet to engage with wine as a product they buy online. But, the same was true of fashion apparel, which is now one of the UK's biggest e-commerce consumer categories. Harpers believes it is inevitable much larger numbers of women will see the benefits, value and convenience in buying wine online. This will have a major bearing on the total size of the online wine market.

The report is published as part of the Demsytifying the Consumer reports published throughoug December by Harpers new Data & Insights division. It can be purchased for £1,250 plus VAT through Willliam Reed Business Media's online shop. The other reports,Demystifying the Consumer in the UK off-trade, and Demystifying the Consumer in the on-trade can also be bought through the shop. All reports are priced at £1,250 plus VAT with a 20% discount if you buy two or more. For more details go to