The Wine Industry is Changing, Here’s How You Can Adapt

Over the last year, we have all been forced to limit contact with others, repurpose our living spaces, and slow down. These global trends have reverberated within the wine industry, reinforced by quickly evolving consumer preferences. Trends may not stick around forever, but there are a few changes that have staying power.

Direct-to-consumer brands are on the upswing, bottle prices are down, and drinkers are curious about no- and low-alcohol options. These trends show that wine drinkers are looking for everyday beverages that won’t give them a headache—be it from an inconvenient purchase journey or high alcohol content.

Double Down on DTC

Direct-to-consumer wine shipments were up 27% YOY in 2020, according to the Direct-to-Consumer Wine Shipping Report. That is the largest increase ever in the segment. Sure, this increase can be attributed to the pandemic-related closures of tasting rooms and wineries. But this is a trend with some proven endurance. E-commerce saw incredible growth over the last year, with little expectation to slow down. The same can be said of DTC wine brands.

Consumers have become accustomed to the ease of buying a broad range of wine online. The report also reveals that “remote workers have been shown to buy wine on a more frequent basis than those who work outside the house.” The number of employees working entirely remotely will decrease, but will most likely not reach zero. That means continued online shopping, including DTC wine.

Entry-Level Wine for Any Day of the Week

The Direct-to-Consumer Wine Shipping Report also reveals that the average price of a bottle of wine shipped to a customer is now $36.83. The price drop over the last year reflected the economic insecurity faced by many, but it also speaks to a more lasting trend. As DTC wine companies took off in 2020, they attracted consumers who were new to wine and looking for competitive prices, according to the same study.

A drop in bottle price may seem insubstantial, but the report points out that the $-9.5% drop is the largest in a decade. Prices may rise over this year, but they will rise from a significantly lower point relative to previous years. This means consumers will continue to look for affordable bottles to explore new varietals or to enjoy on an uneventful weeknight.

NOLO is No Longer Just for Dry January

A surprising trend in a year of unexpected highs and lows is the rise of the no- and low-alcohol (NOLO) market. The IWSR reported the segment is expected to grow by 31% by 2024. Whether this trend is a reaction to a year of too many Zoom happy hours, a sign of slowing things down, or more moderation, NOLO’s popularity will shape the market in the coming years.

Low-ABV seltzers, CBD-infused coolers, and even zero-alcohol wine have hit the market and are here to stay. The NOLO market dovetails with the popularity of the health and wellness industry, which advocates moderation and taking care of your body. Alcoholic beverage producers can embrace this trend by exploring creative options that do not require new technology or ingredients, such as low-alcohol piquette made from previously-pressed wine pomace.

2020 was….a year. Global consumer trends were shaped by a wide-reaching pandemic and necessary changes in household habits. These trends were reflected in the wine industry, with consumers purchasing more wine online, for lower prices, and even with a lower alcohol content. Such changes will hold over the next few years, as they reflect wider consumer e-commerce and lifestyle trends. Adapt now to stay ahead of the competition!