UK wine consumers drinking less, spending more

Consumers in the UK are drinking less wine and continuing to shun the on-trade, according to research published by Wine Intelligence.

Promotions remain very important as a choice cue, with grape variety and brand or product familiarity the next most important decision influence, according to the Wine Intelligence UK Market Trends Report 2012.

Total consumption occasions are down slightly, reflecting a trend over the past 4 years. This is especially true in the on-trade, where the “big night out” occasion is significantly down, though the “formal meal” and “informal drink” occasion are said to be "staging something of a comeback" having hit their low points in March 2010.

Overall spend per bottle is rising, particularly in the off-trade, driven in part by tax and duty increases. In 2008, around 65% of UK consumers said they typically spent below £5 per bottle for wine to drink at home; in 2012, this proportion has fallen to around 45%.

At the same time consumers appear more likely to spend over £7 a bottle in the off-trade. The proportion of respondents in Wine Intelligence’s survey who say they typically spend over £7 has doubled since 2008, and now stands at 16% of UK wine consumers.

Wine Intelligence’s COO, Richard Halstead, said the increasing spend at “premium” levels was partly driven by a shift in the pricing structure of wines offered in supermarkets, and partly a sustained shift in behaviour.

“The recession era post-2008 has been characterised by consumers wanting to maintain their lifestyle through more canny purchasing habits, and wine is at the forefront of this trend. Britain’s wine drinkers have got used to the idea of buying good food and wine to drink at home for a treat, whilst still saving money compared with a night out.”

He added: “Whilst promotions are still the key driver of purchase, it is being tempered by a need to trust in the product, which is driving consumers towards familiar and reassuring brands.”

The UK Market Trends Report 2012 is published by Wine Intelligence and available from the Wine Intelligence Reports Shop, priced at GBP 1000 / USD 1600 / EUR 1280 / AUD 1600 or 2 Report Credits.