- Is cider at a crossroads? Many big corporate players have entered, just as the market for cheaper concentrate-based ciders seems to be slowing. Anecdotal and some scan evidence on sales for smaller high end brands is positive, but there’s a wave of craft and micro-producers coming on line. There are multiple angles of positioning, from mimicking beer to gluten free to creative blends. My specific concern is the drift away from a distinct apple flavor (“as American as apple pie”) and the number of dry, almost austere ciders at the quality end. Both trends risk turning away many consumers and blurring cider’s key points of differentiation.
- 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!
- The Next Big Thing? Liza Zimmerman interviewed me, among a bunch of industry members, on what white wine grape could succeed Italian Pinot Grigio in the popularity sweepstakes: (the next big grape) Given the brevity of the article, we didn’t have time to go into the organoleptic angle: there’s a substantial population of underserved, high sensitivity palates for whom Oregon Pinot Gris or the Lake County style of Sauvignon Blanc may be just the thing. Something for sensory researchers to explore.
- Sustainability: A few months ago, 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.
- 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