> Wine Market Council research update: intriguing on-premise research and hot topics will be dished up this Spring. On April 5th I will be delivering a webinar dissecting the on-premise channel with dueling surveys – one of consumers and one of the trade – plus color commentary from Geoff Kruth MS of GuildSomm, the international organization of sommeliers. Should be interesting to see two sides of the same issues. Then comes the annual West Coast WMC research conference, where attendees will hear from leading industry analysts such as Danny Brager of Nielsen and Jon Moramarco of BW166 on The Big Picture. Has wine peaked? Where are consumers headed? Find out on May 9th at COPIA in Napa Valley! All the research and conference participation is available to members; if interested visit: Wine Market Council.
> Conjunctive Labeling heats up. What is Conjunctive Labeling? It’s the labelling of a product to show both region and sub-regions where the product is grown or made; for example Russian River Valley, Sonoma County. Conjunctive labeling may be legally required or voluntary, regulated by government or private organizations. Napa Valley, Paso Robles and Sonoma County have all passed conjunctive labeling regulations. A number of regions are currently wrestling with the issue: Mendocino, Rioja and Willamette Valley just to name three. Quantitative consumer research has shown conjunctive labeling to have a significant effect on quality and pricing perceptions, as well as purchase interest. If you are in a region considering conjunctive labeling, I urge you to do your research before committing to or dismissing it!
> Yet More Thoughts on Wine Region Tourism: Research has shown that the vast majority of wine club membership and website purchases trace back to a visit. But we’ve seen a flurry of recent press on declining visits or sales PER WINERY. This despite the fact that in most areas, tourism indicators such as traffic and hotel occupancy are up. Essentially, the numerator (visitors) increased more slowly than the denominator (# wineries). Some other analysts have pointed to wineries offering slower and more elaborate tastings. One interesting factor emerging in our recent research is the divide between local and out-of-region visitors. At Full Glass Research we have worked to improve winery visitation and DtC with a wide range of clients, from individual wineries up to regional organizations and the Wine Institute. If you are involved in regional planning and promotion, dependent on visitor sales, or interested in the economic or academic aspects of this topic, I’d be happy to answer your questions.
> Zigzagging Zinfandel, Deciphering Cider: you wouldn’t think these two had much in common, but they share a curious marketing phenomenon. Both of them contain sub-categories that are headed in opposite directions, and in both cases total category trends may be misleading. Low-priced and big brand Zinfandel continues to decay in large chains, but direct-to-consumer sales at higher prices have shown robust growth for several years. The weakening market for inexpensive big brand hard cider has been a news story for a while, but both Nielsen and USACM data show smaller producers at higher prices doing well overall. Is it trading up or different consumer segments? Zin-focused wineries and cider-makers would do well to answer that question.
> Cheese, Grommit! You don’t have to be an Aardman Animation fan to be fascinated by the world of fine cheese. The high end of the cheese business, with its artisanal producers and huge variety of flavor, is very reminiscent of the wine industry. But as we discovered in consumer research for the Oregon Cheese Guild, there are some tricky differences too. The whole issue of how cheese is merchandised at retail has layers of complexity that make the wine aisle seem simple, with interesting trade-offs between visibility, packaging and graphics. Not only that, but there are strange variations in perceived value whether priced by pound or piece. Based on feedback from retailers and producers, there hasn’t been much research in the gourmet cheese category. If you’re out there and curious, or know of someone else doing this, let’s talk!
“Facts don’t come with points of view, facts don’t do what I want them to….”