Constellation Wines last month released some interesting new results from its Project Genome research, offering insights that could allow winemakers to better connect with consumers. The research divides consumers into five categories. All of them purchase wine, but in different ways, and in some cases despite confusion and awkward messaging.
“Enthusiasts” are consumers who read wine publications, like to browse the wine aisle and are influenced by ratings and reviews. This group has “everyday wines” and more special “weekend wines.”
“Image Seekers” are the youngest, and they like to be the first to try a new wine. They are open to new packaging such as 3-liter aseptic packs and screw-top closures – in particular, they like to be able to impress others with their knowledge of the packaging.
“Savvy Shoppers” are bargain hunters. They are confident in their knowledge, shop in a variety of locations – always looking for the best price – and will buy in bulk to get a discount.
For “Traditionalists,” well-established brands are key. They don’t often try new wines, and like to shop where it is easy to find their favorite brands. This group is especially receptive to advertising.
“Satisfied Sippers” are not particularly knowledgeable about wine, but they do know what they like. They consider wine an everyday beverage, but they are not very involved in the research or selection.
“Overwhelmed” consumers make up the largest group in the study — 23 percent — and according to Constellation, the biggest opportunity for growth. This group doesn’t know where to begin in the wine-selection process and is overwhelmed by the number of choices on store shelves. They like to drink wine, but they find the information confusing. As a group, Overwhelmed consumers buy wine once every other month, vs. every four or five weeks for the others.
These consumers are “probably the best example of how we need to think about the industry differently,” José Fernandez, chief executive officer of Constellation Wines North America, said in a Project Genome conference call. Most of the language used by the wine industry was created by enthusiasts for enthusiasts, he said. In order to reach the Overwhelmed consumer, the industry needs to adapt its wine-speak to a language non-enthusiasts can relate to and give them a greater sense of comfort in the wine aisle.
Constellation’s results, and its candor in admitting that language barrier, explain a lot about what is still a very confusing category for many consumers. Wine sales have enjoyed phenomenal growth for several years now, despite being one of the least consumer-friendly product categories. Think of the additional gains that could be made if more consumers could make more confident choices.