What’s New?

> Stuff that comes in cans – they may be chilled, but the category is hot. Not so much beer, but relatively new products such as hard seltzer and wine in cans. Hard seltzer sales have increased exponentially in the past three years, while the base sales for wine in cans has been growing at an increasing rate for four. Among wine consumers, there is higher than average interaction between these two products, in fact between seltzer and wine in small containers generally. Yet the evidence is mixed on whether hard seltzer is stealing customers from wine, or both products are growing share among younger wine drinkers.  One thing for certain, these products are so new that we are just beginning to grasp their impact. The Wine Market Council did some very interesting research recently on how these products interact with several occasions.

The UC Davis OIV Wine Marketing course successfully completed its 29th year. In my admittedly biased opinion, this is the most practical crash course in learning how to market and sell wine in the U.S. It covers all states of the journey from brand conception and packaging to wholesale and channel management to fact-based selling and managing media. It was the biggest class in years – and included a new perspective provided by our first Spanish contingent from the UCD-Camara de Alava alliance. If interested, UCD OIV program.

> Wine tourism, part 3: winery visitation is a critical sales channel for many small wineries, not only for wine sold on the premises, but research traces most online sales and club memberships to a visit.  But the number of wineries open for visitors in some areas has outstripped the growth in tourists. Competition is heating up to offer more elaborate or interesting tasting experiences. (Although our research shows that some wineries need to balance the interests of local and out-of-region visitors). Last Spring in Rioja region, I encountered a variety of really interesting ways to engage the wine tourist. They included a mini-museum in an old wine cellar with extraordinary artifacts spanning BC to early 1900s, mainly excavated from old local cellars and vineyards (Valdelana). an atmospheric recreation of pre-phylloxera Rioja both visually and vinously (Fabulista); a cleverly re-engineered old co-op winery (Amaren); and a visionary melding of nature, terroir and culture at Itsasmendi. 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 it’s a different world when it comes to packaging. There are important trade-offs between visibility, preservation and the amount of producer information.  Not only that, but there are strange variations in perceived value whether priced by pound or piece. We are in the midst of updating our cheese packaging research, including the ground-breaking work with the Oregon Cheese Guild, so stay tuned.


“Facts don’t come with points of view, facts don’t do what I want them to….”
–David Byrne

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