The UK wine consumer - who, what, why

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Last week, Constellation Europe released what it claimed was the most comprehensive study examining the behaviour and shopping attitudes of UK wine consumers. Olly Wehring sifts through the results and brings you the details in a nutshell.

Wine Nation, as the research - collated by Wine Intelligence - has been titled, took a look at what is the most vibrant, competitive wine market in the world. The UK has long been seen as a barometer for the industry as a whole, and the research was designed to give producers an insight into who is buying, what they're buying and why.

The basis for the research came from three areas. Firstly, an on-line quantitative survey handled 3,000 respondents, while Wine Intelligence, who compiled the report, also accompanied 200 consumers on their shopping trips. Finally, a series of workshops were held. The report broke down the 19m UK consumers that Wine Intelligence believes drink wine at least two to three times a month into seven distinct categories.

The Routiners make up 3.2m consumers. They represent the backbone of UK wine consumers, enjoying wine two and three times a week. The group is equally split between the sexes, 80% are parents with children aged 6-18-plus. Some 70% are in the 35-54 age group and ABC1 groups predominate. This group already has a relationship with wine, with a broad portfolio and a good level of knowledge. Routiners are prepared to push towards GBP4 per bottle, but are unlikely to spend more than GBP5. They are starting to move away from the special offers available at gondola ends in supermarkets, but are not yet venturing too deep into the aisles. While accounting for a 25% share of wine value sales, the routiners represent 17% of the regular wine drinking population.

The next group are the High Potentials, which consists of 4m consumers. Made up of high spending and knowledgeable young professionals, this is a younger group - only 3% are aged over 45, with 61% aged under 35 - which tends to have a New World bias. The high potentials have an average bottle spend of GBP4.89, but are prepared to spend upwards of GBP6.50 for formal occasions. Having been introduced to wine by their parents, they look for the reassurance of brands and will only experiment within the parameters of a brand they're familiar with. This group makes up 24% of wine value sales, and 21% of the regular wine drinking population. They do not stockpile wine, only making purchases on an as-needs basis.

The Engaged Explorers account for 2.1m consumers, and 21% of wine value sales and 11% of the wine drinking population. These are established and experienced everyday wine drinkers, with an Old World bias. This is the oldest group, 91% of which are aged over 45. This is also a male-dominated group, and 65% of them are empty nesters whose children have left home. Whilst they are integrated and involved in the category, they still lack confidence in their knowledge, despite reading newspaper wine reviews and discussing them with their friends. This group spends around GBP4.89 a bottle for home consumption and GBP7-plus for a dinner party.

The Experts are the smallest group (0.8m consumers), yet they represent the single most valuable customer on a per head basis. Fully integrated into the category, this group is mature and male dominant - 46% are aged 65-plus, with women accounting for just 23% of the group. Despite spending under GBP5 per bottle for everyday drinking, they will pay around GBP7.99 for a special occasion. The experts are described as global citizens, who may be married to a different national, have lived or worked abroad or may be well-travelled. This group makes up 10% of wine value sales, from only 4% of the regular wine drinking population.

From the smallest to the largest, the Newbies consist of 4.5m consumers - 24% of the wine drinking population. From the oldest to the youngest as well, this group is aged between 18 and 44, with 65% of the segment aged between 18 and 34. Despite drinking wine on average only once a week, this group accounts for almost a quarter (24%) of volume. With the narrowest repertoire of brands, they know what grape variety they like and tend to stick with it. While the average spend for home consumption is GBP3.80 per bottle, this group will only spend up to GBP5 for a special occasion. As well as having only limited interest in grape variety, country, vintage or awards won, the newbies are also slightly resistant to trading up to higher price points.

The second smallest group in terms of wine consumed (5%), the Occasionals tend only to drink wine once a week. As one would expect, therefore, they have low knowledge of the category and are the least valuable on a per head basis. This segment - made up of 2.6m consumers - is slightly older, with 88% of them being over 45, while just over 50% are empty nesters. These consumers are set in their ways and will choose a brand on the reassurance it provides. A limit of GBP3.70 is set for off-trade consumption and up to GBP5.50 per bottle for a special occasion.

Finally, there are the 1.7m consumers who make up the Economisers. This group has the same demographic in terms of age and socio-economic profile as the Occasionals. The difference between the two, however, is that wine is very much part of the Economisers' lives. Around 72% of them enjoy wine once a week or more, but they steer clear of experimenting or trading up. Men account for 64% of this group, while 85% of them are 45 or older. They spend less than any other group - from GBP3.21 a bottle for home drinking, to GBP3.68 for a special occasion. The Economisers make up 9% of the wine drinking population, yet account for only 4% of wine consumed.

Sectors: Wine

Companies: Constellation Brands

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