Wine consumption steady, but spend per bottle is down

24 April, 2020 by Andy Young

A new report from Wine Intelligence has revealed the impact of COVID-19 on the Australian wine market; the report reveals Australian wine consumption is holding up but spend per bottle is down with many wine drinkers being cautious about going out once lockdown is over.

The survey was conducted during the last week of March and the first week of April, just as social distancing rules and then lockdown was put into effect by the Australian government.

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The data from the survey of 1000 Australian monthly wine drinkers suggests that Australians are replacing their old social drinking occasions with regular online interactions with friends and wine occasions with those in their household.

Wine Intelligence said: “The timing of the survey coincided with a period when new behaviours and norms were being established by households across the nation.

“Survey questions probed how people were interacting with wine, but also around broader attitudes – to other alcoholic beverages, to social and travel activities after lockdown, and to financial and lifestyle priorities.

“A more detailed examination of the data suggests that Australian wine consumers are torn between maintaining normal behaviour patterns and acknowledging the major changes to lifestyles and economic prospects.

“On one level, it seems to be a case of ‘keep calm and carry on’: wine drinking is holding up, with old social occasions in pubs, restaurants and other people’s houses replaced by more intimate family events or online socialising.

“Those in Gen X (aged 40-54) increased their frequency of wine drinking during the lockdown period with those in Gen Z, the youngest cohort, reducing their frequency of wine drinking the most.”

The report also examined sentiment about the economy and the state of the world, post-pandemic and it has clearly been affected.

Spend per bottle of wine for home consumption is down, with wine drinkers in Australia reducing their typical spend for all at-home occasions, and particularly for the most frequent occasion of a relaxing drink or informal meal at home. There is also understandable caution about the extent to which normal social activities, vacations and events will be accessible in the immediate aftermath of lockdown.

Commenting on the report, Wine Intelligence CEO Lulie Halstead said: “It’s clear that Australia’s wine consumers are still feeling their way into a new pattern of behaviour. Our evidence suggests that wine is still an important part of people’s lives, but they are showing some understandable caution about finances given all the uncertainties caused by the pandemic.”

She added: “It’s encouraging to see that some consumers are actively planning on living life to the full once they are allowed to do so, and they tend to be those people who are already highly involved in wine, which will provide some reassurance to wine producers.”

Looking ahead there is some encouragement for the wine category with around 25 per cent of those polled saying they were looking forward to trying new styles of food and drinks, and buying more expensive wine once the pandemic has passed.