It's flowering in Napa vineyards.

It's flowering in Napa vineyards.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Wine Buyers - Who, What and Why

When you make your wine store purchases, are you a confident, sophisticated and knowledgeable Enthusiast who looks forward to the experience?  Or do you dread going into the store because you lack basic wine knowledge and are Overwhelmed and intimidated by it all? 

Perhaps, you’re positioned between those two as an Everyday Loyal whose wine store routine seldom varies because you typically buy the same wine from the same producer?  

Or are you a Price Driven shopper with no particular wine preference other than finding discounts and specials and paying the lowest possible price? 

Don't find yourself as any of those?  Maybe you’re one of the young, Engaged Newcomers who, although slightly intimidated, are particularly eager to learn more and you enter the store full of anticipation and interest? 

And, finally, if you are none of those five, are you a life-style Image Seeker who considers wine as a high-priced, status symbol meant to impress your peers?

Those six, distinctly different wine shopper types represent the updated category groupings from the third phase of Constellation Brands ten year study on the “attitudes, motivations, and purchasing habits” of Americans and Canadians as they relate to wine purchases. (In my October 24, 2011 Commentary post I summarized the findings from the second phase that categorized premium wine buyers into six, slightly different categories: Overwhelmed, Savvy Shopper, Image Seeker, Traditionalist, Satisfied Sipper, and Enthusiast.)

Interestingly, because this latest phase focused on wine prices above the previous study’s $20 cut-off point, three of the previous categories were cycled out (Savvy Shopper, Traditionalist, Satisfied Sipper) and three new ones emerged (Engaged Newcomers, Everyday Loyals, and Price Driven).  One must assume, I suppose, that those consumers comprising the three dropped categories have been redefined, or they have otherwise morphed into new and different kinds of wine buyers.  Only Constellation knows.

As before, the objective of Constellation’s ongoing study—Project Genome, The Evolution of the Wine Consumer—is “to improve the overall buying experience for today’s increasingly savvy wine drinkers . . . and developing products that meet their preferences, palates and price point.”  As such, the results of this study are provided to producers, distributors and retailers so they can make whatever product, pricing and marketing adjustments to satisfy your and my wine buying preferences.
A new finding emerged during the course of the study: Constellation noted the increased participation of Millenials. They are the demographic group whose birth years are from the early 1980s to the early 2000s.  They represent a whopping one third of the population as of 2013, and some predict that by 2021 Millennials will comprise 40% of Americans 21 and older.  That represents some serious wine drinking potential!  (And more than a few straight shots of Tequila.)

Further, the evolving marketplace is also being redefined by social media and mobile apps. Consumers now have a variety of go-to sources (other than retail wine stores) for ratings and prices, advice and opinion.  To be sure, Millennials more than any other generational group are “digital device determined.”  

Technology’s growth occurred during their formative years and they, more than any other age grouping, significantly outpace the general population as owners of smartphones—the primary vehicle for accessing mobile apps, social media and relevant, wine oriented, web sites.  Not surprisingly, digital is where Constellation and other companies are increasingly focusing their marketing efforts.

Lastly, as I said in my October 24, 2011 post, “even though a six-way classification may generalize the motivation that underlie what you and I pour into our stemware, it is instructive to see the variety of attitudes and inclinations that trigger wine purchases. I’m of the opinion that wine enthusiasts—of all passion levels—display a wide range of buying behavior.” As such, although today I am a tooth-stained, card-carrying Enthusiast, tomorrow I may (and do) easily morph into a producer’s ideal customer as an Everyday Loyal.  How about you?

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