Monday, January 09, 2006

Results of New Wine Consumer Survey

An interesting survey of 2,500 regular and occasional U.S. wine drinkers was released by the Wine Institute last week. The survey, performed by The Yankelovich Cos., revealed some interested data.

(Caveat: I tend to distrust all wine consumer research as wine consumers are notorious for overstating their preferred price-point as well as their own knowledge base - the "wanna-be wine snob phenomenon")

American wine drinkers are more likely than the rest of the US population to:

  • Be open to new experiences
  • Follow their own path in life
  • Be information-savvy and confident consumers
  • Desire intangibles, experiences and emotions
  • Have their life priorities in order
  • Eschew brands as badges

California wines also came across as best positioned to take advantage of these trends as they rank first in familiarity, consumption and positive impressions - as compared to other wine-producing regions.

Its also interesting to note the rankings of what attributes are important to U.S. wine consumers:
Color and Varietal 69%
Consistent taste bottle to bottle 64%
Value 62%
Familiarity/Comfort with 56%
Food pairing 54%
Good for everyday 48%
Special treat 43%
Personal recommendation 39%
Name/label 37%
Country/region 36%
Reputation 32%

Stunningly, the appellation/origin of the wine is only important to 36% of buyers, but varietal is important to 69%. You have to ask why, then, are most stores laid out by region, not by varietal? Let's put the Chilean Chardonnay next to the White Burgundy, no?

In another chart, Yankelovich showed that California was the only region to have both high familiarity and high frequency of purchase with these consumers. Italy and France showed the highest Frequency of other non-California regions, but not the familiarity of California (probably due to the difficulty of understanding their appellation and labelling systems). Following France and Italy were mostly "new world" regions - Australia, Spain, New York, Washington, Oregon, Chile, New Zealand, Argentina and South Africa, in that order.


Blogger Dr. Vino said...

Funny--it seems that the underwriter of the survey matters most to determining what consumers will say.

Here, as you point out, are favorable results (e.g. varietal) for Cali wines in a study by the (Cali) Wine Institute.

A previous survey from the Center for Wine Origins remarkably found region as the second most important factor in buying decisions. (more)

Lies, damn lies, and statistics?

January 09, 2006 8:23 AM  
Anonymous Jay Porter said...

At our restaurant (about 1 year old), we originally grouped the wine by varietal (listed from light-bodied to full-bodied). We found that our guests struggled because they tended to want to look for a specific region before they found the varietal they wanted. Since we went to regional groupings our guests appear to have a much easier time both finding wines they want and finding wines they want to experiment trying.

My guess is that the respondents in this survey that answered "varietal" also include region in their selection, they just don't think of it. In other words, they may think to themselves that they want a pinot noir but to them, pinot noir is California pinot noir, Oregon pinot noir, or French pinot noir. Or, more easily, they are thinking either of a Cote du Rhone, a Shiraz, or a Syrah, either of which suggests certain regions while being varietally similar or the same.

January 09, 2006 8:27 AM  
Anonymous Al said...

Maybe the results are due to how the questions were worded?
The sad thing about these myriad of surveys is that they rarely tell you what the specific questions were.

January 09, 2006 10:04 AM  
Blogger St. Vini said...

Dr. Vino:
Point well taken (I had the same initial thought), but you can't exactly hold up the Center for Wine Origins as an "uninterested party". They, perhaps more than anyone, would be interesting in proving that 'place' is the MOST important factor in the wine consumer's mind so that they could justify their own campaign to eliminate the use of geographic names outside that geographic area (i.e. no Port from Australia).

However, I have seen other research that indicates that even among 'core' US wine consumers (those 11% that drink 80+% of the wine in this country) that appellation is way down the list (after varietal and price, IIRC).

Maybe Jay has it right that consumers look for a varietal from a certain region. Once you've got the varietal, you generally have your region.....?

St. Vini

January 09, 2006 11:19 AM  
Blogger Dr. Vino said...

St Vino (er, Vini, sorry)-
yeah that's what I was saying/implying. I, like the previous poster Al, want to see the data on these surveys! It's frustrating they only ever provide an executive summaries...The order of the survey questions along with the wording of the questions has a distinct impact on the results. Stats 101.

Call me homo economicus, but I still think price matters most of all...

January 09, 2006 2:04 PM  

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