Delicious, Easily Accessed, Low-Priced Alcohol—What Consumers (will) Want

What do wine consumers care about?

It’s a good question that Wine Intelligence’s CEO Lulie Halstead took a whack at when she gave a presentation at the recent. In the report on Halstead’s presentation, writer Matthew Jenkins reiterated Halstead’s four things consumers care about:

Personalization
Experience
Convenience
Sustainability

It’s hard to disagree that these are things that some wine consumers care about. However, together they are not the MOST IMPORTANT things consumers care about. I’m sure Halstead knows this. She is talking about the things consumers have recently come to care about.

In reality, there is a different set of things that the vast majority of consumers care about. They look like this:

Price
Alcohol
Deliciousness
Convenience (meaning: access)

The vast majority of consumers usually buy wine at or under $10.00 per bottle. But they don’t buy $10.00 and under wines for any other reason than this is what they can afford. Price matters. Additionally, the vast majority of wine consumers buy wine because they want to feel the effects of the alcohol that it contains. Of course, most wine drinkers also want their inexpensive alcohol to be delicious and this is why most wine is sweet—to one degree or another. Finally, they want to have their delicious, inexpensive alcohol when they want it. They prefer to be able to buy it at a variety of locations and have online access to wine too.

What’s interesting, and what’s at the foundation of a marketing education, is the knowledge that this list changes when the first criteria, price, changes. What the majority of $25.00 per bottle drinkers care about will produce a significantly different list. Ask the folks who on average spend $50.00 per bottle and the list changes again and substantially.

I’m not knocking Halstead’s list. She’s not trying to describe what the vast majority of wine drinkers care about. She’s describing things some (probably more dedicated) wine drinkers want more of right now.

The reason I’m playing off her list with my own that addresses lower-price drinkers wine concerns is only to suggest that I believe pretty soon here a number of us in the wine industry are going to have to start thinking about how wine drinkers act when they need to spend less on wine.

Paul Mabray, one of our industry’s visionaries, likes to say, “Winter is Coming”. I think there’s a good chance he’s right. So, wineries and retailers better use the Autumn we have entered for rethinking things…Because Winter follows Autumn.

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4 Responses

  1. Rob McMillan - June 25, 2019

    The adage you get what you pay for cuts both way in economics. A luxury good (lux wine for instance) is defined by a straight up and down demand curve. A change in price for a pure luxury good doesn’t impact volume sold. The opposite is true for cheap commodity wine. Any change in price impacts volume.

    To your point, a $25 bottle of wine has a different demand set from a $5 bottle, versus a $1,000 bottle. Consumers care about all the things Lulie talks about, but how much they care depends upon what they getting… in a bit of valid circular logic.

  2. Tommy G - June 25, 2019

    Hear! Hear! Truer words are seldom spoken though alcohol is usually the least of my concerns. I’ve been reading comments like Ms. Halstead’s for years and they couldn’t be more wrong. Taste, affordability, and availability, not necessarily in that order, is what the majority of we mere mortals desire.

  3. Richard - June 26, 2019

    Interesting speculation… suspect both you and Halstead are correct. But here’s my question – why buy a $10 bottle of wine that is just OK when what you really want is the $32 bottle that you love? Unless you’re suggesting that the winery should lower the price of the $32 bottle to $10? Or just make a $10 bottle that likely won’t be as good? Unless you’re suggesting that the $10 bottle is equal to the $32 bottle and people simply can’t tell the difference?

    My own personal experience is that as I’ve aged, my wine tastes have changed – and while I’ve tried to find some inexpensive good wines, they aren’t stellar. Realize i must be in the minority, but I’d prefer to get one bottle of what I really like than two or three bottles of something that’s just “ok.”

    Apologies if I’ve totally misunderstood your comments!

  4. Nathan - July 3, 2019

    Like the previous commenter, I think there’s truth in both statements (as you acknowledge as well). I think another factor that could play into this is home winemaking, which is a trade off between the convenience for price factors of your list on some levels. I’ve actually been kind of surprised at seeing how far behind home brewing that home winemaking is. But, if it does take off, it might launch yet another industry trend if the beer world is any example.


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