Sour grapes for wine industry as younger drinkers lose their bottle

June 11, 2009

Engaging younger drinkers in the wine market could prove key for the future success of the industry, new figures released today from Mintel show. The exclusive consumer research reveals that after years of impressive growth, the total UK wine market saw a 2% decline in volume sales in 2008 – a fall from grace for a market that has shown consistent growth for some years. In addition, the value of the market also dropped 1% year on year in 2008 to stand at £9.6 billion.
The effects of concern over binge drinking, a trend towards healthy lifestyles and heavy Government taxation have all had an impact on the market. In 2008 alone, duty on wine increased by 17%, meaning the British are now among the most heavily taxed wine drinkers in Europe. This, combined with rising production and manufacturing costs and the strength of the Euro against Sterling, have put added pressure on wine manufacturers. As a result of these factors, Mintel forecasts that the wine market will not recover in volume terms until 2011, but will increase by 4% up to 2014 to reach 1.18 billion litres.
Within this challenging context, the Mintel research demonstrates it is more important than ever that the wine industry engages more with younger consumers – and amongst the 25-34 age group in particular – to gain market share and loyalty for future consumption. Wine drinking amongst this age group has declined more than any other over the past five years, indeed Mintel’s consumer research found that a fifth of 25-34s find the choice in wine confusing, the highest for all age groups surveyed.
Jonny Forsyth, Senior Drinks Analyst at Mintel said:
” in contrast to the majority of alcoholic drinks, people gravitate towards wine as they become older. This means that usage starts to take-off amongst the over 35s, with people continuing into their retirement. The majority of drinks, such as lager and vodka, see an opposite trend with people starting young but cutting back as they get older. “
The research highlights that the 25-34 market are the most likely of all age groups to be influenced by what wines they have drunk before when purchasing wine – with almost half (44%) of them citing this as one of three major influencers of purchase, suggesting that they do not have the knowledge or confidence to experiment further.
” once people join the wine ” club”they tend to stay in it for life. The problem for industry is getting people to join earlier. Despite being big drinkers generally, 25-34s are below average drinkers of wine. With wine seeing its first decline in volume and value for some time in 2008, it is increasingly important to target younger consumers effectively, and 25-34s are forecast to see double digit growth over the next five years. “Jonny continues.
While the wine industry as a whole suffers, the research reveals Rosé has bucked this trend and seen excellent growth in recent years, increasing its market value from just £110 million in 2004 to £527 million in 2008. This means it now accounts for 6% of the value of the wine market and Mintel forecasts that it will continue to grow over the next five years, reaching £742 million by 2014.

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