Shopping Behaviors of Wine Drinkers
The most common factors involved in why customers choose certain wines are bottle labels and brand recognition. In addition, wine companies also use different brands to target different wine consumers based on their persona. Below, you will find more details.
Please note that although Wonder doesn't use sources older than two years, our research through recent market and industry reports didn't produce enough data so we had to rely on some slightly older sources. The reason for the unavailability of more recent data is probably because this kind of research is not performed annually.
Eye-catching labels and brand recognition
According to Nielsen in August 2017, "As of June 2017, more than 3,500 new wine products had hit shelves in the last year, representing 14% of all items in the category and 4.5% of category sales volume. But the influx isn’t just giving consumers an array of new brands to choose from; it’s forcing retailers to make tough choices about how to use their finite shelf space." They go on to say that, "only 29% of consumers know which brand they intend to buy before they enter a store. The remaining 71% of consumers are making their decisions as they peruse the options on the shelf."
One way of gaining the attention of prospective customers is through label design. Nielsen goes on to ask, "...does a design grab consumers’ attention quickly? In a recent label analysis of 20 wine brands that utilized eye-tracking technology, 57% more consumers saw the most visible bottle than the least-visible bottle within the first few seconds of looking. Since consumers can’t consider purchasing a wine that they don’t see or notice, strong standout is a key requirement for effective design. Once consumers notice a bottle, the label needs to compel them to purchase it. For this reason, manufacturers should assess to what extent their designs reflect the brand’s personality and effectively convey key messages. Which elements are working well, and which aren’t?"
Eye-catching bottle labeling can lead to our next important tactic: brand recognition. The Texas Wine Marketing Research Institute and Rawls College of Business at Texas Tech University show in their study from 1991-2006, that there was an “Unmistakable trend: the better the recognition rating a wine brand received, the more likely it was to survive. No such link existed between quality evaluations and a brand’s success.” The study offers more helpful insights such as when seeking to be a more recognized wine brand, one must understand what makes their brand different and then promote those benefits to their niche target market. The customers must also be understood in order to ascertain what makes a brand unforgettable to them and what marketing promotions will hold their interest.
Constellation Brands, the world’s largest wine seller, did a study in 2008 called Project Genome in which they surveyed the purchases of 10,000 premium-wine consumers, defined as those who purchased wine priced at $5 and higher–over an 18-month period. They also tracked actual purchases using Nielsen Co.’s Homescan® consumer purchase panel, which employs in-home bar code scanners and surveys to map consumer buying behavior across a demographically diverse population. The study was updated in 2014, adding more research and giving us the six different kinds of wine consumers.
The Six Different Types of Wine Consumers
The first is “overwhelmed,” in which the customer is somewhat bewildered, frustrated, and confused by all of their choices. They are seeking easy to understand information on their options but may pick a wine based on label design or may get so frazzled that they might not buy anything at all.
The second type of wine buyers are “image seekers.” They are just discovering wine and are influenced by status symbols, prefer Merlot, check restaurant wine lists online and research their scores, and are most likely to be male Millennials.
The third type is the “Enthusiast.” They like to entertain their friends in their home, consider themselves knowledgeable about wines, like to browse wine sections in stores, are influenced by wine ratings, and 47% buy wine in 1.5L as “everyday wine” to supplement their “weekend wine.”
The fourth kind of wine consumer is the “everyday loyal.” Wine is a part of their regular routine and they are brand-loyal, enjoy wine from established wineries, like to entertain at home, and use wine to make occasions more formal.
The fifth type of wine consumer is “price driven.” Price is their main consideration and they believe you can find good wine without spending a lot of money. They shop at a variety of stores to find the best deals, use coupons and know about sales ahead of time, and typically buy a glass of house wine when dining out due to the value.
The sixth type of wine customers are the “engaged newcomers.” They don’t know much about wine but like to drink it and are interested in learning more about it, are likely to be young/millennials, and consider wine to be a part of socializing.
The Power of Millennials
According to Nielsen, "Boomers and Millennials represent two of the largest consumer groups in the U.S., and that means understanding what influences their alcoholic beverage purchases will help retailers, suppliers and manufacturers offer the right in-store assortment and execute the right marketing strategies to help influence undecided shoppers..." and "...When comparing Millennial and Boomer shopping differences, the study results showed largest distinction pertained to the degree to which each generation has a specific brand in mind for their planned purchases. This is likely due to a combination of degree of experience with alcoholic beverages that comes with age, as well as the differentiated nature of generational attitudes and behaviors. More than half the time (52%) Boomers make a shopping trip knowing which brand they plan to purchase, compared with less than a quarter (24%) of Millennials. As Millennials have fewer planned brands in mind when heading to the store, it leaves ample opportunity for retailers and suppliers to influence their in-store purchases." Catering to the Millennial demographic is especially important because, as reported on February 2017, "...according to a new report released by the Wine Market Council, an industry association of wine-related businesses, the majority of 'highly involved wine drinkers' are Millennials, and that they drink beer, wine and spirits 40 percent more than the overall adult population."
In this booming and changing market where 3,500 new wine products were released just from 2016-2017 leading to more competition on the shelves, wine companies must understand that millennials' habit of having more willingness to try new brands, and therefore offer the best chance at gaining new customers, must first be initiated by catching the customer's eye with bold labeling in order for the product to be bought and brand recognition be built.