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Vast Wine Selections Overwhelm almost 25% of Consumers: Study

Almost one-quarter of wine consumers feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of choices on store shelves, according to the latest results of an ongoing research project called Project Genome, by St. Helena, Calif.-based Constellation Wines U.S.

This year's research built upon an original 2005 study, which was a survey of 3,500 wine consumers. The new phase examined purchase patterns of 10,000 premium wine consumers over 18 months via Progressive Grocer parent The Nielsen Company's Homescan consumer purchase panel.

Nielsen measured consumer attitudes and purchase behavior in channels including supermarkets, warehouse clubs, mass merchandisers, drug stores, liquor stores, and wine shops. The study also included Nielsen's custom Spectra analysis overlaid with online interviews to classify the surveyed consumers under Project Genome's consumer segments.

The original study found that there was no single type of premium wine consumer, but rather that consumers tended to fall into one of six consumer segments: Enthusiast, Image Seeker, Savvy Shopper, Traditionalist, Satisfied Sipper, and Overwhelmed.

The largest segment, Overwhelmed, accounts for 23 percent of consumers who are starved for information about the category. The study found that they:
- Like to drink wine but don't know what kind to buy and may select by label
- Looking for wine information in retail settings that's easy to understand
- Very open to advice but frustrated when there is no one in the wine section to help
- If information is confusing they won't buy anything at all

Among the new insights into the other segments:

Enthusiasts (12 percent of consumers)
- Entertain at home with friends and consider themselves knowledgeable about wine
- Live in cosmopolitan centers, affluent suburban spreads or comfortable country settings
- Like to browse the wine section, publications and are influenced by wine ratings & reviews
- Forty-seven percent of Enthusiasts buy wine in 1.5L size - "everyday wine" to supplement their "weekend wine"
- Almost all Enthusiasts (98 percent) buy wine over $6 and it accounts for 56 percent of what they buy on a volume basis

Image Seekers (20 percent):
- View wine as a status symbol
- Have a basic knowledge of wine and discovering wines is new to them
- Like to be the first to try a new wine, and are open to innovative packaging
- The number one most purchased varietal: Merlot
- Use the Internet as key information source including checking restaurant wine lists before they dine out

Savvy Shoppers (15 percent):
- Enjoy shopping for wine and discovering new varietals on their own
- Have a few favorite wines to supplement new discoveries
- Shop in a variety of stores each week to find best deals and like specials and discounts
- Heavy coupon users and know what's on sale before they walk into a store
- When dining out they typically buy a glass of the house because of the value

Traditionalist (16 percent):
- Enjoy wines from established wineries
- Think wine makes an occasion more formal and prefer entertaining friends and family - at home to going out
- Like to be offered a wide variety of well-known national brands
- Won't often try new wine brands
- Shop at retail locations that make it easy to find favorite brands

Satisfied Sippers (14 percent):
- Don't know much about wine, just know what they like to drink
- Usually buy the same brand, usually domestic and consider wine an everyday beverage
- Don't enjoy the wine-buying experience so buy 1.5L bottles to have more wine on hand
- Second-biggest category of warehouse shoppers, buying 16 percent of wine in club stores
- Don't dine out often but likely to order the house wine when they do

"This Project Genome research can help the industry in many areas, from marketing to consumer education and will serve as a tool in the marketing of our wines," said Jose Fernandez, c.e.o. of Constellation Wines North America of the project.

Constellation Wines U.S. encompasses three wine businesses: VineOne, Icon Estates, and Centerra Wine Company. The portfolio includes such brands as Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi, Clos du Bois, Robert Mondavi Private Selection, Blackstone, Ravenswood, Robert Mondavi Winery, Simi, Estancia, Wild Horse, Arbor Mist and Paul Masson Grande Amber Brandy. CWUS is an operating division of Constellation Brands, Inc., an international producer and marketer of beverage alcohol in the wine, spirits and imported beer categories.
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