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Published:  23 July, 2008

More than 5% of UK wine consumers prefer to shop in independent specialists, according to new findings from the Wine Intelligence Consumer Access research service. While this is a small percentage compared with supermarket shoppers, it still represents a 300 million-plus annual opportunity. These consumers show different preferences from those supermarket shoppers. For example, varietal preference is markedly skewed towards Sauvignon Blanc, at 50% higher than the average for the whole sample (1,184 consumers). Propensity to trial wines by source-country confirms a more adventurous consumer, more likely to choose from many countries, different from the supermarket wine shopper, who is more likely to confine choice to just two or three countries. Countries lower down the market-share rankings in AC Nielsen terms are more likely to be chosen by consumers shopping in independent specialists. A higher interest in New Zealand wines is to be expected - 37% versus 28% for the overall sample. Argentina at 37% versus 30% is more surprising. Consumers who shop in the independent specialist channel are also a particularly interesting segment for the on-trade. Consumer Access now tracks occasion frequency, and shows that consumers who shop in independent specialists also more frequently drink wine in pubs and bars as a relaxing drink after work - 5.6 times per month compared with 3.4 for the overall sample average. For this group, the overall frequency of on-trade wine occasions averages 14.3 times per month (overall sample average: 10.0). Spend per bottle for this group of consumers is predictably higher - by nearly 20% in off-trade situations and 16% at on-trade occasions. Given that occasion and consumption frequencies are also higher, these are precious consumers, to be understood, cultivated and cherished. This research will form the basis of the Industry Forum at the Specialist Importers Trade Tastings (SITT 2005) to be held at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester on 28 February and at Vinopolis in London on 2 March. A panel of experts from both the on-trade and the off-trade will give insights into their experiences of working in the specialist channel. .