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KAM and Hallgarten partner for indie survey

Published:  16 October, 2023

Specialist wine importer Hallgarten & Novum Wines has partnered with insights agency KAM to research consumer decision-making at independent specialists. 

Points of interest include what motivates consumers to shop at indies, how the cost-of-living crisis has impacted them and how they choose their wine.

Carried out in August 2023, the research surveyed 1,185 individuals, made up of Hallgarten's off-trade customer base, who had shopped at an indie merchant in the past year.

When looking at the overarching demographic of visitors to indie merchants, customers are more likely to live in London, be male, aged 45-54 and go on holiday multiple times per year, according to the research.

Encouragingly, 45% of respondents cited ‘supporting small businesses’ in the area as the main reason for shopping at these retailers, a trend that was no doubt bolstered by the Covid lockdowns.

Drilling down into how consumers navigate a wine shop – outside of price – customers prefer to browse the venue’s wines by type or colour, rather than geography (country/region) or grape variety. 

The most popular grape varieties shoppers are looking for are Sauvignon Blanc (59%) and Malbec (57%), the latter bucking the trend of the total off-trade market which puts Merlot at the top.

When asked what drives a consumer to choose one bottle over another, respondents placed ‘taste/description’ (56%) as the most influential factor, followed by ‘awards/medals’ (33%). Personal recommendations are also key to helping to influence purchases, with 56% looking to friends and family for inspiration and 48% relying on in-store staff.

Laurence Brown, senior insight manager at KAM, said: “The research found that the wine buying experience in these independent stores is much richer, less transactional compared with supermarkets. The need to build customer rapport with knowledgeable staff, the importance of informing and inspiring the customers, and ensuring the offer is exciting and unique are much more prominent in this retail environment.”

Andrew Bewes, MD at Hallgarten Wines, added: “Independent retailers are currently facing a very challenging market as consumers continue to make difficult choices when managing the effects of rising prices elsewhere in their lives. We are proud to be able to offer some key insights through our Wine Decisions report which we hope will help our retail customers make more informed decisions at this crucial time. The findings confirm that independent specialist retailers are successful in building trust with their customers and embedding their businesses into the local community, though there are also key learnings to take away; from demonstrating good value for money to engaging further loyalty from consumers.”