Consumers will carry on drinking wine despite recession: survey

Consumers will carry on drinking wine despite recession: survey News Wine News
  • Wednesday 28 May 2008

Despite the economic downturn consumers will not cut back on wine but will trim household budgets in other areas, according to new research.

The survey of 1,000 regular wine drinkers in the UK, carried out by Wine Intelligence on behalf of the Wine and Spirit Association (WSTA), found that consumers would rather cut their spending on sweets, chocolate, beer and soft drinks.

More than 60% did not consider wine to be a high priority for cutbacks, while less than half of those surveyed did not believe that wine had become more expensive in the past six months.

This was in stark contrast to their perceptions of other categories, such as bread, fish, poultry, cheese and coffee.

But the survey comes as wine prices are being forced up by a combination of excise duty increases and escalating production and supply chain costs.

‘The message is that wine will not be the first thing to go for the majority of wine consumers,’ said Brian Howard of Wine Intelligence.

‘Since those [23.5m] regular drinkers represent about 95% of the value to the industry, it’s reassuring that wine is not going to be the first thing to be tipped out of the supermarket trolley.’

The survey also found that wine drinkers might be induced to spend more on their everyday drinking. Those paying on average £4.64 for an ‘everyday’ bottle of wine said they might spend up to a maximum of £6.81.

However, during a seminar at London International Wine Fair, wine writer Robert Joseph took issue with the survey’s findings. He argued that people felt obliged to say that they would cut back on sweets – but was doubtful that they would deliver on that promise.

Joseph also voiced doubts on the willingness of consumers to trade up. ‘We’re a cheapskate nation,’ he said. ‘We buy our clothes at Primark and our flights at Ryanair. How are you going to get someone to buy a £10 bottle of wine when they can fly to Prague for £5?’

He and other speakers, including Adrian Atkinson of Pernod Ricard UK and Matthew Dickinson of UK agent Thierry’s, called for the wine industry to join forces in a mission to make wine more aspirational through the creation and promotion of premium brands.

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