As we ticked over from 2019 to 2020, one of the hottest topics in the drinks industry was what the year’s trends would be.
Now, as we reach mid-2020, it’s likely that predicted trends have faced unexpected challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic, perhaps not achieving results forecasted before the virus exploded across the world.
Knowing this, Wine Intelligence has reissued their Global Trends in Wine 2020 report, in an updated document with insights and commentary about how each trend is likely to be impacted by Coronavirus in the short and medium term.
In a new introduction to the report, Lulie Halstead, Wine Intelligence Co-founder and CEO, said: “Back in January, we reported that the key themes in global trends in wine for 2020 revolved around ‘The Four Rs’: Relationship, Retail, Repertoire and Responsibility. In our new environment, we believe these mega trends are as valid as they were in the pre-coronavirus world. However, the way in which these trends present themselves in the current context, and the path of their evolution through the remainder of this year and beyond, has undoubtedly changed.”
Some of the most notable trends for retailers are below, but the full report has also now been made free to access on the Wine Intelligence website (normally worth upwards of $2,000). You can download that in full here.
The first ‘R’ is home to the trends of rising involvement with reducing knowledge, and increasing visual impact.
Before COVID-19, the first relationship trend points to consumers becoming more involved with wine, but reducing their ‘technical’ wine knowledge. This was largely credited to how we increasingly rely on external measures, like smartphones, to retain and recall knowledge for us, rather than relying on our own cognitive measures. However, Wine Intelligence has predicted that both wine involvement and knowledge may increase now thanks to the pandemic and how it has shifted our daily lives and habits.
The report noted: “We anticipate that as a result of the enforced shift in wine purchasing away from the on- premise, some to retail stores, but most to online, objective wine knowledge may in fact increase. Having to pre-populate search terms and having more time and opportunity to read online reviews and commentary will enrich knowledge levels. Overall, involvement may also rise because consumers will have time to explore.”
Meanwhile, the second relationship trend relates to the visual impact of a wine bottle, and how consumers will increasingly use this to make purchasing decisions. This is set to be unaffected by the pandemic, and the report said: “The attractiveness and appropriateness of the bottle and label design will carry on growing in importance in 2020 and beyond.”
The second ‘R’ has three trends: maturing consumers, growing on-premise opportunity and premiumisation.
The maturing consumer trend refers to the relevance that the over 55 demographic has on the world of wine. In a globally ageing population, the cohort is the largest consumer group of wine, albeit with ‘less confidence’ than younger generations. the significance of the maturing consumer is predicted to continue through 2020 despite COVID-19 affecting older generations more than younger.
Wine Intelligence said: “The wine drinking population will continue to mature, with these drinkers remaining more ’wine experienced’ and knowledgeable due to the number of years they have spent engaging with wine.”
In terms of the on-premise trend, in January Wine Intelligence described how higher priced and ‘special occasion’ wines are more likely to be consumed in venues to help boost experiences. Of course, with the shut down of so many on-premise markets across the world, this has been re-forecast on the medium and long term, to suggest at-home consumption of wine will be boosted instead.
The ongoing premiumisation trend was set to continue in wine this year, as more consumers looked for options to help them ‘drink less but better.’ But with the extreme economic shock that the pandemic has caused, value for money options have overtaken this trend, at least in the short term, with the report noting: “We may have seen the end of the premiumisation trend for now.”
The third ‘R’ discusses the trends of switching out of wine, shifting wine choices, and universal rosé.
Consumers that are part of the switching out of wine trend are contributing to the growing number of drinkers that are no longer defined by the one category they frequent. Instead, Wine Intelligence predicted a drop in regular and frequent wine drinkers, as they switch out to other alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage categories. This is unlikely to be impacted by COVID-19.
The millennial demographic is largely driving the shifting wine choices trend, with predictions centring around the growing number of consumers expanding their repertoire to a larger number of grape varietals from a smaller number of origin countries. The new report predicts this will continue, however with consumers now choosing more local products, or opting to support nations that have displayed actions that align with their personal values throughout the pandemic.
We anticipate a renewed focus on domestic and local wine in wine producing countries, reflecting national populations becoming more inwardly-focused and protective. This will also reflect consumers’ agendas to support their local businesses at a time of economic crisis. Potentially, there could be a consumer backlash against certain countries and regions, depending on how the pandemic is managed,” the report said.
The ever-growing popularity of pink has seen rosé predicted to trend again in 2020. Even with the pandemic, this is set to continue, especially as the Northern Hemisphere moves into summer, which is likely to boost demand.
The final ‘R’ area of Wine Intelligence’s report contains the trends of moderation and rising ethical engagement.
Low and no products have experienced boosts in sales through the moderation trend and that was predicted to continue in 2020 before COVID-19 struck. However, as the updated report notes, “Evidence indicates that abstinence does not typically occur during times of crisis and if anything, consumption of alcohol can increase.”
However, early findings describe how consumers are also ‘moderating but drinking more,’ choosing lower ABV products but perhaps consuming more of them. In any case, the moderation trend has been predicted to be on hold for the short term as more people are confined to their homes with changed lifestyles.
The final trend that was set to see big results in 2020 was rising ethical engagement from an increase in consumers looking for brands and products that align with their values. Areas of particular note were sustainability and health causing boosted popularity for organic and other alternative wine types, especially in younger demographics that are more willing to invest in conscious consumption practice.
This has already been a trend that has been impacted by Coronavirus in other markets, for example in many venues no longer accepting reusable coffee cups. Wine Intelligence says there is potential for wine to go either way in this trend.
“During times of crisis, benefits which can be seen as desirable rather than fundamental are typically the first to be abandoned. This may be the case for sustainable wines, particularly as they are often more expensive than their ‘regular’ counterparts. [When this is over] purse strings will tighten and may reduce the attraction of sustainable and alternative wines. Conversely, we can also expect a heightened focus on collective responsibility, leading to support for sustainable products,” Wine Intelligence explained.
The full revised report goes into more detail about the data points of these trends on a country specific level and can be downloaded here.