The Future of Post-COVID Wine: Five Trends to Watch

Many discussions about the wine business begin with the classic wine industry joke: “If you want to make a small fortune in wine, start with a large one”.

It primarily addresses the many profit margin challenges that winegrowers face, from supply-side retail pressures to climate change, to consumer buying behaviors and ever-changing trends.

It also captures the issues facing the wider wine industry. Before Covid, UK wine sales were down 5 years, young people drink less than previous generations and wine has recently faced stiff competition due to the rise in popularity of gin and beer artisanal.

However, on the other hand, this winemaker’s joke is also about the unique passion and love that many people have for wine. Few categories can experience this level of emotional attachment to a product, and it is this passion that breeds optimism for the future of wine in the UK.

The Covid has changed almost every aspect of our life. And wine-making habits are absolutely part of this change. As a nation, closures and working from home have increased our consumption of wine, with a significant increase in volumes through foreign trade offsetting the loss of business activity. We are also spending more per bottle than before COVID.

But the question is, will this positive trend continue? And what happens next, with the opening of foreign trade and the resumption of normal life? Will the nation return to its old wine-growing habits? Or are the new habits adopted here to stay?

We explored 5 trends that have recently impacted the UK wine industry that could influence the wine category in the future.

A permanent e-commerce shift

Online wine buying was on the rise before COVID, but like many other industries, online wine sales have seen a huge increase over the past year.

At one point, Virgin Wines stopped taking orders due to excessive demand. And Naked Wines saw its sales increase by 80% in the first 2 months of foreclosure last year, with new customer sales in 2020 more than tripling.

As new online wine buyers may have discovered, it’s not just about the convenience of having wine delivered right to your door.

The possibility of allowing consumers to compare, evaluate and discover in their own environment makes wine particularly well suited for e-commerce.

Wine buying is now well above the indices online (wine has a 14% value share of the total UK beverage market, compared to a 40% share online).

Considering the huge increase in first-time wine buyers in e-commerce, the levels of digital innovation in which brands have invested, as well as the amount of new consumption data being acquired, this is a trend. which is sure to continue.

More variety of wines, for more occasions

As a general trend during lockdown, without going out, people were spending more time preparing meals, having evening drinks and discovering new wines to drink at home on different occasions.

Prosecco was already a big growth story in the UK, but sparkling wine as a whole has spearheaded this diversification of wine consumption opportunities. Sparkling wine has become less of a celebration now, and more of an “aperitif hour”. Non-trade rosé sales also benefited from this trend, as did other lighter style wines.

By constantly being at home rather than drinking or eating out, more and more people have learned that having a variety of wine styles available to them at home gives them flexibility and flexibility. choice for different occasions. It doesn’t sound like something that will be easily forgotten.

New formats

Changes in shopping and consumption habits during the pandemic have led to a move towards larger packaging formats in many food and beverage categories. And in wine, bag-in-a-box as well as small packaging formats, such as cans, have experienced strong growth.

Canned wine in particular has been moving towards wider consumer acceptance for some time, and this trend has been accelerated by the pandemic.

Demand for bag-in-box and storage for “emergencies” may well recede when bars, pubs and socializing return to the thick of it, but the growth in cans and single servings is likely to remain. The format has been a recruiting driver in wine, attracting younger consumers to the category.

Low and no

The “low & no” alcohol boom shows no signs of abating. This is the biggest growth area within beer, with sales of non-alcoholic beer up 58% last summer (Mintel), and similarly in spirits, non-alcoholic sales increased by 170% since 2017 (IWSR). IWSR predicts that sales of alcoholic beverages “not and low in alcohol” increase a further 31% in volume by 2024.

Wine is well behind in this space, with enormous challenges regarding consumer acceptance of alcohol-free wine and issues of production and flavor. For these reasons, “no and weak” wines currently represent a tiny fraction of wine sales in the UK.

However, continued investments in dealcoholization innovation are sure to pay off, and as beer and spirits have shown, if a quality product can be cracked, the opportunities for growth are there.

Buy local

We couldn’t finish a review of UK wine trends without mentioning English wines. Having grown slowly and steadily over the years with a niche, the desire to buy local products, the new Brexit environment, climate change and the increase in stays and rural tourism are all trends playing on the strengths of the future of English wine.

There are now 502 commercial wineries in the UK, with 80 producers getting started in the past year alone. Currently, 5.5 million bottles are produced each year, which is expected to reach 40 million by 2040.

Price has always been an issue with our local wines, given the economies of scale and challenges with labor costs. But, in a new world of Brexit, with a general tendency of consumers to prioritize “quality over quantity”, a greater environmental awareness of the impact of local products compared to imported products, an increased willingness of retailers to storing local wines and the unparalleled passion we know people have for the category, who knows, English wines could have a bright future.

About the Author: Jamie Williams is Managing Partner of the independent design agency isobel. After starting his career in New York, he worked in the advertising industry in London for almost 18 years. Jamie is a member of the British Guild of Beer Writers, exploring the beer category through a marketing lens. He also writes on social issues and branding for a range of titles including The Independent, City AM and a variety of marketing and advertising publications.

Photos: getty / petrenkod; getty / evgenliashekhuklina

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