Whining Over Too Much Wine?

Brands and suppliers vie for share of increasingly fragmented wine market

CHICAGO --A flood of new options—it was a dilemma that recently saddled the gum category in convenience stores and it appears that an overflowing new-product pipeline has also now become the wine segment’s burden.

Confusing consumers rather than inspiring them, the number of choices “at the restaurant table and in the retail store can be almost overwhelming [for consumers],” said Donna Hood Crecca, senior director at Chicago-based Technomic Inc.’s adult beverage resource group.

Following strong volume growth earlier in the decade, the wine industry’s upward trajectory continues, but the rate of growth has decelerated, noted Crecca. In 2014, total wine volume rose 1% and projections for 2015 and beyond call for a similar pace of industry expansion, according to Technomic’s recently released 2015 WineTAB report.

“Primary factors influencing the industry’s performance include slowed per capita consumption growth and the proliferation of brands and styles, as well as competition from spirits and beer for consumer attention and occasions,” Crecca said. “Consumers are highly engaged with wine and learning more about it every day.”

While the leading wine brands achieve mixed results, the fastest-growing wine brands are marked by a variety of styles, varietals and regions. The report also shows consumer interest in wines with interesting backstories and philanthropic connections, unique production methods and convenient packaging, Crecca noted.

To be sure, wine consumers are a different breed than spirits and beer consumers, especially in their capacity to have an open mind when new varieties hit the market. They are viewed as the most “brand-adventurous” as 19% of wine drinkers have bought 10 or more brands in the past year, according to a recent Nielsen survey of more than 2,000 adult beer, wine or spirits drinkers. However, the more wine consumers buy the more brand-adventurous they become as 33% of people who purchase wine once a week tried more than 10 brands in the past year, according to Nielsen.

Technomic Inc. tracks more than 1,250 wine brands and 125 suppliers, and develops consumer insights into wine preferences and purchasing behaviors for the 2015 WineTAB Report, which is part of Technomic's Trends in Adult Beverage series.