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Wine in a can? Well yes, maybe…

Published:  20 December, 2019

Neil Anderson sizes up new research on what the Y & Z generations want from a tin of vino

In the US, wine in cans has been the recent darling of the wine industry, with growth of 43% over the previous year. This has predominantly been driven by younger consumers - Gen Z & millennials. However, as various studies and reports reveal, all age groups in the US seem to be engaging with wine in a can.

Moreover, although this format still only accounts for a modest 2% to 3% of Total Light Wine in the US, three to five year predictions put the potential market share at between 20% to 30% of the category.

So will this happen here in the UK?

Possibly. However, recent research by Masters of Brands, a strategic, communication design agency specialising in the food and drinks industry, suggested there are some clear “watch outs”. Just sticking wine in cans and having a standard ‘label’, suggested the findings, is not the way to build this category. It simply won’t work.

Consumers aged 25 to 30 want to know about the environmental/sustainable and taste benefits of having wine in a can. These two elements are really important. Lower carbon footprint is a key feature that should be communicated on the pack. Other obvious benefits of being in a chilled can (as opposed to glass or plastic/paper cup) - wine staying cooler for longer - made a significant difference to the appeal for this age group.

In addition, 30 to 45 year olds were more likely to purchase brands already recognised and consumed, although the research did acknowledge some likely additional consumption and purchase occasions for rosé and light whites in a can in the summer.

There were also suggestions on utilising cans to deliver and communicate ideas on ‘re-seal’ and having ‘special linings in cans’ to protect and preserve the wine quality - these additional features were important to over 72% all of those in this study.

XHEAD: Doing what it says on the can

The integrity of the treatment on the design and labelling is critical for still wine in a can. Some 81% of all those surveyed in this Masters of Brands research expected wine to "do something a bit different" when in this form of container.

The findings drew on learnings from the craft beer category, with the necessity of having a clear taste descriptor and having an interesting and engaging story mentioned by 84% of those in this research.

There was a word of warning, however, for those that believe wine in a can will be a catch all panacea for driving engagement (and sales) with younger generations. There are clear opportunities, but only if the trade gets it right – and this means breaking down old category boundaries and barriers and responding to what the market would like.

A majority of the under 30 age group said that spritz and other fusion-based ideas were more obvious choices vs still wine in a can - as long as the drinks have the right balance of flavours; not too sweet, using natural flavours. Healthy additives to wine fusion drinks (probiotics, CBD, etc), it was suggested, would go down well.

Furthermore, the benefits of "lighter and refreshing" is a key element that consumers are looking for when thinking wine and wine/fusion in a can, so ensuring communication on these aspects is crucial.

The wine industry needs to be a little smarter on how it engages. And wine on can is a golden opportunity to appeal to and attract new and younger generations of consumers, while reinvigorating the wider wine category (and it certainly needs it).

Let’s hope producers, importers, suppliers and retailers get it right and ensure that wine becomes part of the wider can revolution.

Neil Anderson is a commercial strategy and brand marketing consultant in food and drink: