Thinking Inside the Box

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Thinking Inside the Box

By Randy Hofbauer, EnsembleIQ - 12/15/2016

Years ago, box wine was seen as something that appealed more to the over-indulger – or to be poured for (but kept hidden from) the eyes of discerning dinner party guests. And although some brands and their boxed offerings still appeal strongly to these types of consumers, the time when grocers had to keep these on the bottom shelf has passed: Bota Box, Black Box Wines, The Naked Grape and a number of other brands are scrapping the stereotype.

“Premium box wine is emerging in the market and selling well at Raley’s,” says Curtis Mann, director of wine, beer and spirits at West Sacramento, Calif.-based grocer Raley’s, recently named Wine Retailer of the Year by Wine Enthusiast magazine. “We are considering expanding our selection by looking for different varietals and countries from which to source quality, high-level box wine.”

Millennials, in particular, are more open to different and nontraditional wine formats, suggesting that box wine could see growth in the next year or two, says Chicago-based market research firm Mintel in its January 2016 Category Insight piece on wine. Along with keg wine, box wine can appeal especially at a time when tap wines are growing in popularity, with Millennials also driving this trend.

“The growing acceptance of wine on tap in the on-premise channel is likely to benefit the bag-in-box format in the retail sector, as both formats use the pouring tap mechanism,” Mintel says. “The bag in box format also reduces the price of good quality wine in the same way that wine on tap does in bars and restaurants.”

To build up excitement in the wine category, grocers can work with suppliers of premium box wine to educate shoppers on products’ freshness, quality and lower carbon footprint. More elaborate and upscale-looking displays also could better communicate the quality of these products.