Key trends for the wine category in 2017 - Focus
Rounding off Euromonitor's preview of the trends expected to shape 2017 for the alcohol category, senior drinks analyst Spiros Malandrakis finally turns his attention to the wine sector.
Cans, stories and natural credentials
The on-going and underlying transition from grape stories to great stories, the embrace of alternative packaging formats such as cans among much wider demographic strata, eco-certification initiatives and the rise of natural wine as a truer representation of terroir alongside the welcoming positioning of rose varietals will be the key themes for wine.
Adopting a clear and enticing narrative, and finding new ways to communicate with mystified consumers historically overwhelmed by the category's impenetrable jargon and inherent conservatism will be at the crux of the task at hand, as competition from adjacent segments intensifies ever further.
All the wine in China
While discussing the unparalleled gravitational pull of China remains as clichéd as using the 'craft' prefix or feigning excitement about the latest flavoured vodka activation, the country's potential remains as real as it is binary.
On the one hand, westernisation, aspirational consumption and the surprisingly-rapid sophistication of drinking rituals will retain their role as structural drivers for global wine imports into the country. Prioritising iconic brands over regions or varietals, embracing the demographic cornucopia of advancing middle class and Millennial drinkers, embedding wine in everyday drinking occasions and capitalising on the importance of online sales in a market with notoriously challenging distribution networks, will all be key.
On the other hand, China will come of age as a producer. With major international houses investing heavily in production in the country, interest in exotic, niche and left-of-centre varietals across mature western markets spiking and climate change radically altering the playing field, Chinese wine exports will soon make their presence felt on the international stage. After all, English sparkling wine also sounded like a joke only a few years ago.
Why China is as much about wine production as wine consumption - Click here for a just-drinks comment
Champagne - Effervescent Modernisation
From forging unlikely partnerships with emergent sharing economy platforms such as Deliveroo, in an attempt to position itself as a convenient luxury in touch with Millennial sensibilities, to hesitantly embracing 'poptails' as it is belatedly flirting with more casual and less strictly celebratory occasions, Champagne is breaking the mould. And, from the 'piscine serve' to rediscovering the art of sabrage, theatre will remain a focal point, even if it will involve more than a monolithic adherence to tradition.
Conversely, the encroaching 'other sparkling wines' segment will continue capitalising on its momentum, value-for-money credentials and unpretentious associations, but it will ultimately push further up the pricing ladder to provide premium alternatives to Champagne's dominance of high-end options.
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