Consumers who buy wine over the Internet buy more bottles and more expensive wine than the same consumers visiting bricks-and-mortar liquor stores. But they don't return very often.

That's the take-home message of a study of wine buying behaviour by Larry Lockshin and Sally Stening of the University of South Australia.

Speaking at the 2001 OIV (Office International du Vin et du Vigne) World Congress in Adelaide, Lockshin said less than 0.5% of retail wine sales took place over the Internet, although wine is an information-intensive product, which should benefit from presentation through the electronic medium.

He said in some ways the Internet's delivery of information is superior to other channels. For example the purchaser is anonymous and therefore less intimidated by wine snobbery. Intimidation has been identified by market researchers as a major obstacle to wine consumption.

"In this study we examined the buying habits of 750 people who bought wine through a national specialist retailer in the year 2000, using both the Internet and in-store and we compared them to people who purchased wine only in-store," said Lockshin. "Purchasers in store bought fewer items per transaction, an average of 11.5 bottles compared to 18.5 on the Internet.

"The average price paid per bottle was $A19.30 in store and $A23.80 on line. Those who only bought wine in-store paid an average of only $A15.90 per bottle and spent $A53.90 per annum, compared to purchasers who used both in-store and the Internet who averaged $A103.00 per annum."

Lockshin said an interesting feature of the data was the lack of repeat purchases on the Internet. Only one customer used the Internet for all their wine purchases.

"Two or three customers made more than 75 transactions on-line," he said. But the average number of transactions per person was only 1.5.

To view related research reports, please follow the links below:-

Wines & Spirits in Australia
Wine: The International Market