Blog: Chris MercerVinisud 2012 - How are the French using the internet for wine?

Chris Mercer | 23 February 2012

More and more French people are using the internet to research wine before going out to buy it, a new survey shows. Might this open up opportunities for foreign wines?

Alcohol and the internet have had a troubled relationship in France. At one stage, it looked as if the Government might ban sales and promotion via the web, mainly because its law on drinks promotion - the Loi Evin - couldn't cope with the idea of cyberspace. It was a typically French affair.

Since resolved, there is growing consumer interest in wine online, but it remains limited, according to a survey published at Vinisud 2012 this week. Of the 1,200 18-65-year-olds questioned by Sowine/SSI, 12% said that they buy wine online.

This is up two percentage points from the same survey completed in early 2011. Typically, those doing so are male, city dwellers and above 36 years of age. 

In France, it is currently much more popular to research wine on the web, rather than to buy it online. Around one fifth of those questioned use the internet to research wines before going out to buy.

Of those, 85% look for price promotions. In contrast, though, those who actually buy their wines online are likely to buy more and spend more per bottle. 

The numbers will send you dizzy after a while, but it seems that the internet is generally growing in importance to France's wine sector - which, in case you hadn't noticed, tends to be pretty conservative.

It's possible that, in time, the internet's power to disseminate information may help foreign producers to squeeze into a market that is notoriously patriotic when it comes to wine - often down to a regional level within France itself.

Younger French winemakers are better-travelled than their predecessors, and so, too, are young French consumers. The next problem, though, I suppose, is that young French people would rather be drinking beer and Scotch than wine.



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