How Wine Can Learn from Craft Beer

Years of declining penetration and an ageing target market has posed the question of how can wine become more appealing to 25-34 year-olds, and stem the tide of losing consumers to the gin revolution & Craft Beer? With wine suffering from a rapidly ageing market base dominated by 55+ year-olds, we commissioned a deep dive research project to gain an insight into wine is perceived by a younger audience.

Our research identified five critical things that 25-34 year-olds find engaging with Craft Beer & what they recognised would make wine more appealing (and this doesn’t just involve incorporating more ‘wacky’ labels!)

  • It’s all about the taste
  • Be more innovative
  • Deliver an engaging, authentic story that links history – product – taste
  • Exciting, attractive labels & treatments
  • Limited Editions
No 1 – It’s all about the taste

Craft Beer does this well. The most crucial discovery from the Masters of Brands research is the need to communicate a clear, enticing taste descriptor. This is the most critical element consumers want to see. It was clear that consumers make purchase decisions (after price & thinking about the drinking occasion) based on this. Without it, it can prevent a sale.

No 2 – Be More Innovative

The Wine Industry can & must take a few more risks. Winemakers are naturally innovative. From our experience, they are always experimenting. This needs to be more apparent in what we see on the shelves.

Learning from Craft Beer (also whiskey & other spirits) Winemakers could experiment more with barrels (Sherry for example) & other blending techniques to create some variation & interest. Both winemakers & production/blending facilities can impact on ways to bring more exciting tasting products & brands to market.

No 3 – Deliver an engaging, authentic story that links history – product – taste

It is subtle, but a significant element that many Craft Beers seem to get right. Bringing to life the origin, history & provenance and linking this through to the final product & taste. Wine has this in abundance, but it is not great at conveying it.

Wine brand will often lead with a statement about the history of the grower such as “We have 5 Generations of Wine Making”. If it’s not this, then the back label is awash with unrelatable tasting notes such as “hints of cigar box”, “It is flinty”, “very grassy”.

These two elements should be entwined to give the consumer some insight into the brand, but also solving the biggest challenge, “how do I know what this will taste like before I buy it?” For instance, “Our family (all five generations) remain dedicated & passionate about ensuring you have most delicious, dark fruit flavour sensations in every sip you take”. This short and sweet sentence gives the consumer much more insight into the product they are going to buy. They will more than likely result in more sale conversions.

No 4 – Exciting, attractive labels & treatments

We do accept there are more enticing, exciting & variation of labels today. However, there is more wine can do. The white (& off white) wallpaper of wine still exists (as do the preconceptions). Our research did not find wine packaging unsatisfactory. 64% said it was good to very good. The concern was only 9% said very good/and appealing vs unprompted preferred attractiveness of Craft Beer & Gin, design, labels & treatments. The test is how many products & brands have a real point of difference in that wallpaper of wine?

No 5 – Limited Editions

Craft Beer has a significant number of limited editions with innovative & creative labels & artist collaborations. These have high interest with 25-34-year-olds. Unprompted in the focus groups during the research, this age group was excited by some Craft Beer brands commissioning “unknown artists”. Also, “Personalised” labels was a topic they recognised & engaged with. The group stated the reasoning being these create excitement & engagement with a significant age group that are fundamental to the life cycle of wine. Surely. If doing something a little different, e.g., “limited editions”, have a positive impact in recruiting under 35 age group. Surely this should be a consideration from producers, brand owners & retailers?