Latest research from MINTEL finds wine sales in the UK booming as British women continue their love affair with wine. Between 1999 and 2004 wine sales in the UK grew by over 30%, from £5.8 billion to an estimated £7.6 billion in 2004. The market is expected to grow by the same percentage again by 2009 to reach almost £10 billion. Volume sales of wine have jumped by some 27%, from 837 million litres in 1999 to over one billion litres in 2004.
"The rising numbers of drinkers going out in the week, in particular the more affluent, mid-life singles and the 'Bridget Jones' generation of working women with time and money to spare for luxuries such as wine, have undoubtedly played a significant part in boosting sales. Less gassy and fattening than beer, wine is the favourite tipple among women both in and out of the home. The high-end price increases have also helped sustain market growth," comments James McCoy, Senior Market Analyst at MINTEL.
In the UK today, as many as seven in ten (69%) women drink wine, compared to just three in five (62%) men. Although men are just as likely as women to drink wine at home, the real difference comes to light when men and women are drinking out on the town.
In pubs, clubs and restaurants, a mere one in five (21%) men drink white wine, compared to some 36% of women and while just one in four (24%) men opt for red wine, as many as three in ten (31%) women do so. For men, draught lager is the most popular choice (34%), followed by canned and bottled lager (31%). Meanwhile, just one in seven (14%) women drink either one of these, making lager less than half as popular as wine amongst women, while out and about.
"Not only is breaking the beer culture amongst young men an unlikely event, it cannot be ignored that some of them feel that there is still a stigma attached to drinking wine down the pub or in a club. Although some men could be persuaded to buy more wine on-trade, if they could hide behind the excuse of a good meal deal, for many, drinking alcohol is still commonly associated with the purpose of getting drunk, rather than as a pleasant meal accompaniment," comments James McCoy.
Out with the old, in with the new?
The UK probably enjoys a greater variety of wine imports than any other nation. When it comes to off-trade sales, French wines continue to be 'driven out' by those of the New World. Indeed, in the off-trade market the New World plays host to nine of the Top Ten brands.
Over the past 5 years the popularity of Australian wine has increased rapidly. In 1999 just 17% of people were drinking Australian wine, but by 2004 this had risen to some three in ten (31%). Although slightly less in demand than Australian wines, the popularity of South African wines has also risen, increasing from 11% to 16% over the same period and Californian wines have increased from 9% to 15%.
Meanwhile, during this time Old World wines have not faired well. Back in 1999 almost three in ten (29%) adults claimed to drink French wines (considerably more than the 17% who drank Australian), but by 2004 this had fallen to 26% of people. German wines have also suffered, falling from 18% to 12% over the same period - the biggest drop in popularity of all the wines.
"While classic Old World wines are revered by connoisseurs, New World wines are better represented within the mid-to-lower price sectors and are ultimately more accessible to the masses. The prominence of New World and branded wine is likely to see the further erosion of the French offering within the UK. Although French suppliers are now changing their tactics to compete in a 21st Century wine market, the rise of the brand and the New World competition may be too advanced for the French to regain their former stronghold in the UK," comments James McCoy.
"Indeed the success of the New World and branded companies, in addition to the popular demand arising from this, is likely to increase the level of high quality, lower value wines available on the market, and branding will continue to shape the future of the wine market. Despite some misgivings about the prominence of branded products by traditionalists, the wine market is set to grow from strength to strength, as rising levels of consumers are lured into the category on the back of increased brand familiarity," adds James McCoy.
A Rosie Future?
In the UK, red and rosé wines account for the majority of market sales and have outperformed white wines in volume terms over the past five years. Between 1999 and 2004 volume sales for red and rosé wines increased by some 32%, compared to a 21% increase in white wine volume sales.
"Sales of red wine have benefited from numerous medical studies, which promote the various health-giving properties of red wine. But the big success story of the last couple of years is the rapid expansion of the rosé sector, prompted no doubt by the scorching summer of 2003 and a high profile 'Drink Pink' campaign mounted by the iconic Mateus Rosé brand," explains James McCoy.
When it comes to buying wine, only one in four 'usually buy the same colour wine', and in fact cost emerges as the most important factor, with some 32% saying that they 'tend to buy wine within a certain price range'.
Demand for organic wines, i.e. 'wine produced from organically grown grapes', though still relatively small, is growing steadily with an increasing number of suppliers making organic offerings available.
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