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business of wine

#Wine consumer buying habits revealed

Written by Laura Clark

The simplicity of a label, the wine’s colour and price are factors which most sway people to buy a certain a bottle.

That’s the message from a panel of consumers who were put under the spotlight at Consumer Question Time – the first industry briefing of the LIWF.

“In label designs I’m looking for something colourful and appealing,” said Danielle Meenagh, winner of Michel Roux’s Service Sommelier Scholarship, who falls into the 18 to 24-year-old age bracket.

“It must be simple and say where it’s from and what it is,” added Charlotte Ashton, another 18 to 24-year-old, who admitted when it comes to buying wine, “it’s more about quantity than quality”.

For Keith Derham, a “curious wine lover” in his thirties, “brief tasting notes on the back” are what persuades him to buy a bottle.

Consumer Question Time was hosted by Bernadette Costello from Costello Media and Tim Wilson, managing director of the Wilson Drinks Report, who revealed a You Gov poll of 14,000 British adults found colour was the first thing they make a decision on when buying wine in the off-trade.

While 47% said the colour of the wine is what sways them, 18% said special offers and 13% said retail selling price. Only 3% said brands are what they base their purchasing decisions on.

In contrast, a survey of 16,000 British adults found in the on-trade, grape variety and whether it’s a house wine are the joint most-important factors in choosing what wine to buy. Only 4% said they ask for help from a sommelier or serving staff.

“This must be an opportunity for the on-trade, said Wilson, “the serving staff should be more pro-active in offering help to consumers.”

Better information on wine labels would also help consumers make a decision about what to buy, according to Lorraine Burling, who represented mothers and housewives on the panel. “I would like to have pointers on labels – shortcuts to help me decisions,” she said.

In restaurants, consumers are reluctant to spend what they perceive is too much money for a bottle of wine, Burling added. “A lot of people are fairly risk adverse,” she said, “and they go with the house wine.” Meenagh agreed: “A lot of times people go for the cheapest option, such as a house wine or one that everyone is familiar with.”

Promotions such as 50% off are incredibly attractive to consumers, Ashton added. “Sometimes it’s a means to an end. It suits people on a budget. There’s a market for it – whether it’s right or wrong I don’t know.”

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