But the good news for winemakers is that despite the UK having the highest tax burden in the EU, the nation’s economy is growing again, unemployment is falling and consumer confidence returning; inflation also fell to 2% in December for the first time since November 2009.
“Emerging from the economic downturn is a far more digitally connected but fairly battered and bruised consumer, looking for new inspiration and exploring more contemporary and cosmopolitan consumption occasions,” write Stephen Rannekleiv, Marc Soccio and Valeria Mutis in Rabobank’s ‘Wine Quarterly’ trends and outlook report.
Food friendly offerings important
Consumers go out, the analysts write, but when they do their wine consumption is increasingly geared to food “with the pub format continuing to flounder in favor of more contemporary offers”.
“Incumbent market leaders, such as Australia in the off-premise and France in the on-premise, will need to adapt to such trends as consumers look for more food-friendly offerings,” they add.
Identifying 25-34s as the biggest spenders on alcohol in the UK, Rabobank’s analysts say that, encouragingly, this group tended to spend as much on alcohol out of the home as in the home.
“This group is even more receptive to new messages and product innovations, and online media and distribution channels are emerging to provide wine suppliers with a new and exciting platform.”
Addressing the internet as one key distribution channel, the report authors note that Tesco online grocery deliveries totaled 3m during the six weeks covering Christmas and the New Year (+11%).
Festive sales for direct competitor Morrisons were muted by comparison, in part due to the retailer’s lack of a compelling online platform.
E-commerce…A developing science
One third of all orders made using a mobile device, and Rabobank’s analysts said estimates showed that 1% of e-commerce sales were made using such equipment in 2010, but IMRG research suggests this number could top 30% in 2014.
“On face value, e-commerce platforms are a powerful information and communication tool, which in turn provides a valuable opportunity to encourage consumers to trade-up with a greater understanding of products in the marketplace,” Rannekleiv, Soccio and Mutis write.
Early indications suggested that UK consumers buying wine online spend more on average, they add, while warning that “this may simply be an inter-temporal effect if consumers are tending towards purchasing in bulk to minimize delivery costs”.
“Whatever the case, the science is still budding, and wine supplier strategies to harness the power of the internet have a long way to come,” the analysts conclude.