- Sustainability: Last month I stated that while some politicians keep booting sustainability and climate change down the road, the wine industry isn’t waiting around for them. It looks like sustainability and the environment may be back on the front burner. It was great to hear our research reflected in trade and producer insights from my fellow panel members at the Unified Symposium in January (presentations can be found here). The California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance and the Sonoma County Winegrowers are investing substantially in promoting sustainable growing and production in 2017, while pioneer non-profit organization LIVE is expanding its consulting and certification services in the Northwest. I am proud to play a small part in this movement, via research prepared for NGOs and regional organizations or presented at various conferences.
- 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’re discovering 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!
- Trading places: last year I speculated that Zinfandel and Pinot Noir may have traded places, in terms of their role in the wine industry. Pinot Noir, which used to be the only variety with a majority of its volume above $15/bottle, is now in much wider distribution at lower prices. Zinfandel, much of which used to be sold as a value red or a secondary SKU in chain brands, has shifted upscale and is now primarily focused on smaller or appellation-driven brands. The most recent data from various sources seems to confirm that. While overall volume of Zin was down in scanned retail in 2016, according to Nielsen that occurred under $11/bottle; Zin sales over $11/bottle actually grew. According to the ShipCompliant/W&V reports, Direct to Consumer sales of Zin grew substantially in 2016 and 2015. Certainly pricing and quality at the most recent ZAP tasting were on the rise.
- Wine Tourism makes a big impact beyond those tasting room sales and fancy wine country dinners. We have done multiple studies showing that visitation dramatically boosts the quality and value perception for all wines of the region visited, as well as greater willingness to purchase any of the region’s wines once back home. In addition, most wine club business traces back to that initial visit to the winery. Last year we completed studies for several wineries as well as for the El Dorado Winery Association on how tourism affects sales and perception of their wine. Now we are pleased to have advised the Wine Institute on the topic, which significantly expanded the scope of wine tourism research with a new interesting study fielded by tourism experts Destination Analysts that covers all of California. Stay tuned for details.
- Not just wine! Full Glass Research covers much more than just the wine industry. We have done qualitative and quantitative research on food distribution, cheese consumers, beverage packaging, farmstand marketing and supplier industries such as cork. In addition, working with Wine Opinions and the Wine Market Council, we continue to explore the interaction between beer, spirits and wine.
“Facts don’t come with points of view, facts don’t do what I want them to….” David Byrne