What’s New?

> The Wine Market Council’s research is accelerating. I encourage anyone interested in benchmarking consumer trends, or obtaining insight into hot industry topics for a minimal fee, to consider Wine Market Council (WMC) membership. Last month, I conducted a webinar for members on the WMC research into consumer choices and preferences for different retail channels, including online vs. offline decisions. Recent projects include a study of consumer perception of “green” production and certification, and a survey of marginal and new wine consumers, measuring how they are adopting or defecting from wine and why. In addition, the WMC publishes annual total U.S. market surveys, tracking changes in consumer opinion and behavior. The webinars, reports and research data are available free to WMC members. For more information on attending or joining, visit: Wine Market Council

> Craft Beer Summit: The California Craft Beer Summit is coming up on September 6-8. Craft beer producers can catch up on production and marketing techniques and innovations through seminars and floor booths. Beer fans can refine their appreciation at the symposium on the 6th and 7th and try new beers at the grand tasting on the 8th. For those in the business, I will be presenting a short seminar on fact-based marketing and sales, covering scan and depletions data and market research. Hope to see you at the Summit.

> Wine Region Tourism: It’s the foundation of direct-to-consumer business for small wineries,a boon to local economies, and a model for many other types of farm trails. We’ve been involved in several recent studies of the topic, from the producer level up to entire states. 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.

> Sauvignon Blanc sales continue to outpace the market – apparently no temporary fad but a distinct change in taste for some consumers. In Nielsen retail scan data, Sauvignon Blanc sales have grown at over twice the rate of table wine overall for the past three years. It’s creeping up on Chardonnay among high frequency, high involvement wine drinkers as represented by the Wine Opinions panel. Despite its success, it seems to be the grape everyone drinks and no one talks about. The Sauvignon Blanc Experience offered a remedy to this by assessing Sauvignon Blanc in terms of production style and resulting flavors. One key issue is how to communicate a diversity of styles in a clear manner to consumers. Terroir? Gardening (viticulture)? Winemaker personality? They are all strong influences on this grape’s wine.

> 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….”
–David Byrne