COVID-19 has impacted every aspect of our lives from how and where we work to what foods and beverages we are consuming. The beverage alcohol industry, in particular, has seen some noticeable changes in wine trends, not only how much wine people are drinking, but how they are consuming wine.
Pre-COVID-19 Wine Trends
In 2019, before the pandemic hit, wine volume had declined for the first time in 25 years. Previously, wine producers have been enjoying a healthy market that was due, in part, to the ability to leverage the wine room tasting experience to win over customers. Wine also had the advantage of being one of the only alcoholic beverages that could be sold direct-to-consumers (DtC) through monthly subscriptions and other services.
However, emerging threats to the market led to a steady decline that peaked in 2019. Over the past few years, competition from spirits and hard seltzers negatively impacted wine trends. At the same time, craft brewers and distillers took a note from wineries and started offering their own on-site tasting experiences. The DtC market also became more competitive as more states allowed spirits to be sold to consumers. Combined with an overall trend to moderation and a lack of marketing efforts towards younger drinkers, it is easy to see why the wine industry was struggling with multiple challenges.
Post-COVID-19 Wine Trends
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly changed 2019 wine trends. With mandatory on-premise closures across the country, wineries were forced to find new sales channels. They have been concentrating on off-premise sales and trying to win over new demographics as people increase their alcohol consumption during these stressful times. It also helps that people are buying items in bulk and stocking up their pantries. As a result, off-premise sales volumes have grown by around 20% over last year for every week since March.
There are also some signs that people are beginning to switch from other alcohols to wine. During the pandemic, people aren’t just using wine to pair with meals and are enjoying a glass in the evening. Those who usually drink wine are also increasing their consumption, which has helped fuel growth. This wine trend is especially prevalent in certain sections of the market. Women have increased consumption more than men while those who fall in the 40-55 and 25-39 age brackets are also drinking more wine. Now is the perfect time to use this information to market towards new demographics.
Established brands are perhaps benefiting most from market changes. As people return to drinking wine or take it up for the first time, they are turning to “retro”brands. They want to spend their money on something that they know they will like instead of trying new brands. This has been a boon for older brands who have steadily watched volume decrease in recent years.
While it is clear that people are drinking more wine and choosing it over beer or spirits, there is no telling what this might mean for post-pandemic times. Once people are able to eat and drink at bars and restaurants, they may stick with the wines that they have come to enjoy during COVID-19 or go back to beer and liquor. Wineries should not only enjoy this pandemic-triggered spike in sales, but also start formulating a plan for the future as conditions continue to evolve. A few options to look at for the near future are winery software and an alcohol database, as both tools have proven effective in sparking growth and helping businesses stay ahead of their competition.
What did U.S. wine trends look like in 2019 prior to COVID-19?
In 2019, wine sales decreased for the first time in 25 years. Recently, consumers have been turning to spirits and hard seltzers instead of wine. Consumers were also attracted to the on-site craft beer and distillery experiences. Other emerging threats include more direct-to-consumer spirit opportunities brought about by new laws, a trend towards drinking in moderation and less marketing to younger demographics.
How has COVID-19 impacted wine sales?
Wine sales have increased as people shelter at home and stock up their pantries. Sales have been up around 20% every week since the pandemic as compared to the same time last year.
How has COVID-19 impacted wine consumption?
More wine is being consumed as people switch from beer and spirits to wine.
What kind of wines have consumers been drinking during the COVID era?
People are turning to favorite and recognizable brands.
What kind of opportunities has COVID-19 presented to the U.S. still wine market?
Winemakers now have the opportunity to win back former wine drinkers and market themselves to other demographics where they may not be as popular.