Wine industry relies on over-55s as younger consumers opt for moderation, low-alcohol products

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There is a big opportunity for wine regarding non-food occasions.
There is a big opportunity for wine regarding non-food occasions.
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  • Just as in SA, global wine sales volumes have started recovering, but not yet to pre-pandemic levels, says an expert.
  • The wine category is becoming more reliant on consumers over 55-years of age.
  • Younger consumers are driving a trend towards drinking in moderation and opting for products with low or no alcohol. 


Although the regular wine-drinking population is decreasing and getting older, consumers are becoming more premium product-orientated. 

This is according to Lulie Halstead, CEO of analytics company Wine Intelligence.

The wine category is becoming more reliant on consumers over 55 years of age, she said at the 16th annual Nedbank Vinpro Information Day hosted on Thursday.

At the same time, Millennials (those born from about 1977 to 1997) and Generation Z (those born between 1997 and 2012) are driving a trend towards drinking in moderation. There is, therefore, an ongoing demand for products with low or no alcohol. 

In the beer category the driver is no-alcohol beer, while in the wine category the driver is low-alcohol wine - both from a low base. Halstead expects this trend is here to stay due to a greater focus on wellness.

Consumers are not abstaining, however, but using substitutes or practising so-called "blending". "Substituters" choose to consume alcohol only on certain occasions, while "blenders" consume both full strength and low-alcohol drinks at the same occasion. Younger consumers - Generation Z and Millennials - are driving these trends of blending and substituting. 

"Just as in South Africa, global wine sales volumes have started recovering, but not yet to pre-pandemic levels. However, the wine category can take its cue from consumer trends linked to strong growth in ready-to-drink [RTD] product sales," says Halstaed. "Consider the serving size, style, packaging and the fact that RTDs are usually chilled, carbonated and mostly blends."

So-called premium RTDs are increasingly popular and consumers more comfortable to consume carbonated wines from cans, for example. 

Another trend she highlighted is that e-commerce channels are forecast to grow and evolve, with online delivery apps becoming more popular and providing a great tool to build brand awareness.

"In a competitive market where consumers lean towards local and sustainable products, create trust and establish a personal connection in your storytelling, while emphasising the fact that wine is a natural product," suggests Halstead.

In her view, there is a big opportunity for wine regarding non-food occasions - to be consumed more as an "aperitif-style" drink and not just with food. 

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