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Wine on the rise with younger consumers as on-trade returns

Published:  20 May, 2021

Younger consumers plan to spend more than before as they return to pubs and restaurants, and spend a larger slice of that money on wine.

This was the encouraging headline finding of Berkmann Wine Cellars’ Insights Report 2021, produced in partnership with CGA, aimed at better understanding how consumer behaviour will pan out as hospitality reopens.

The Report, shared with Harpers ahead of its release to Berkmann’s trade clients, found that across all age groups, 20% planned to spend more than before, though with 24% planning to spend less as restrictions are eased.

However, among 18-34 year olds, 46% reported that they plan to drink wine, 22% above the average across all age groups, and 39% of this same cohort said that they would spend more than before, with 48% saying they would spend the same.

Rosé and sparkling wines, along with simple wine cocktails, were identified as the styles of drinks that this group would most demand.

“Despite being financially hit the hardest by the pandemic, younger consumers are not planning on sacrificing spend going out,” found the Report, while advising that outlets ensure they are well stocked with the food and drinks that appeal to this consumer group.

“The wine category is becoming more important for this group of younger consumers,” it added.

Commenting on the findings, Berkmann’s commercial director Charles Marshall said that the repeated lockdowns and on-trade closures had prevented younger consumers from accessing with ease drinks such as cocktails, spirits and beers in bars.

This, in turn, found them turning to wine for convenience, rather than spirits, for at-home relaxation, a trend that is predicted to carry over into the on-trade as venues now open more fully.

“The consumption constraints forced onto younger consumers has changed what they consume and what they are going to consume,” said Marshall.

Claudia Bastiaensen, head of trade marketing at Berkmann, added: “Drinking beer at home is a different experience to having a draught pint and not everybody at home is comfortable making a mixed drink or cocktail, but wine is a relatively easy drink to consume at home, so we’ve found those consumers have been drinking more wine during all those months of hospitality closure.”

Echoing findings from elsewhere, the Report also found evidence of premiumisation in spending habits, with 58% of wine drinking respondents saying they would be looking for “good value for money”, underpinned by 47% seeking “high quality”, rather than simple the cheapest options.

“Wine Drinkers are looking for the known and familiar post-lockdown, whilst valuing a fair price point and quality wines,’ the Report advised.

Operators, it suggested, should focus on “a quality offer of well-priced key wine styles and grape varieties” on the list, which would be instrumental in driving sales.

Despite the fast emergence of digital wine and food menus, 42% of respondents said they still preferred information on a traditional printed menu.

Outlets working with a digital wine menu are also advised to keep it simple. In descending order of importance, price, wine type, variety, country of origin and abv were the essentials that wine drinkers said they would look for first.

Add-ons such as food pairing suggestions, information about the brand or winemaker and tasting notes, on the other hand, were described as, “Nice to have, but not essential”.

The Report also covered the future of delivery, with a majority 69% of those surveyed saying that they would continue to order delivery from, as well as eating in, their favourite haunts. This continued habit of ordering delivery, in turn, could provide “a lucrative opportunity for extra revenue”.

Marshall elaborated on approaches that restaurants and pubs could take to maximise this opportunity via additional wine sales, suggesting that venues could offer take-away menus that include pre-paired suggestions for wine(s) with the food, for example.

“It’s about delivering some of the theatre, the experiential side of the restaurant that customers are looking for, even when they are ordering delivery and dining at home,” said Marshall.

Another section of the Report looked at staycations and the further opportunities presented by this trend for 2021.

Some 41% of respondents reported that they had planned or booked a UK holiday, with 42% saying they were planning to eat and drink more during their holiday this year, presumably as an extra treat over not going abroad.

Commenting on this, Marshall again stressed that venues would be wise to tap into this potentially lucrative increase in UK tourism, with “festive drinks” such as rosé Prosecco and large formats all able to add to the aforementioned “theatre” that demob happy consumers are looking for.

Berkmann’s Insights Report 2021 was conducted in partnership with CGA in March of this year, interviewing 1,524 consumers on their thoughts about eating and drinking out after the lifting of lockdown restrictions.