A quarter of premium wine consumers in the US find shopping for wine ‘complex’ and ‘worry about making a mistake,’ researchers for Constellation Wines US have found.

Executives are hailing the new study into the habits of wine drinkers as equal in importance to the Human Genome Project.

Project Genome, an online study, surveyed 3,500 premium wine consumers and found ‘there is no typical wine consumer.’

Instead, the survey found, drinkers fall into six distinct categories, ‘each with its own set of attributes, motivations, preferences and shopping behaviors.’

The discovery of these categories, or ‘segments’ – Enthusiast, Image Seeker, Savvy Shopper, Traditionalist, Satisfied Sipper and Overwhelmed – ‘give us a dramatic, new level of understanding into consumers’ wine preferences,’ Constellation’s US CEO Jose Fernandez said.

The study was named after the Human Genome Project, in which scientists took 13 years to identify the 250,000 genes which make up human DNA.

‘Just as the Human Genome Project was about understanding the DNA of the human body, we named our research study Project Genome because we wanted to elevate our understanding of premium wine consumers.’

According to Project Genome, Enthusiasts are passionate about everything from researching wine to drinking it; Image Seekers are both sophisticated and trendy, Savvy Shoppers are after value for money, Traditionalists value wine with history and Satisfied Sippers look for sensible choices.

By far the largest group – the Overwhelmed Consumers, who make up 23% of respondents – ‘find shopping for wine complex and worry about making a mistake.’

This finding, Constellation says, ‘points to new opportunities’.

‘For example, understanding that nearly one in four premium wine consumers is “overwhelmed” can inspire creative new approaches to everything from “how-to” in-store displays to novice-friendly restaurant wine lists.’

To participate in the study, consumers must have purchased one or more 75cl bottles of wine with a price of US$5 or more, or $9 or more for a 1.5l bottle, or a premium 3L box, within 30 days of the survey.

Written by Adam Lechmere