Predicting wine trends for the unpredictable year ahead is certainly a challenge for the wine industry as we attempt to plan and prepare for ever-changing times. Jo Taylorson, head of marketing and product management at Kingsland Drinks in Irlam, shares insights on the five key areas to watch out for in 2021, looking at wine trends that are here to stay following a year like no other.
Alternative wine packaging formats
The past year has seen consumers explore the wine in bag in box format. Smaller formats such as canned wines and single serve haven’t fared as well over the last 12 months, but as restrictions are lifted, and outdoor socialising makes a comeback, cans in particular are well placed to meet that occasion.
Bag in box – this has historically been an overlooked format but with changes to shopping habits, lifestyles, demographics, and drinking occasions, the bag in box has come into its own. Existing bottled wine consumers have come into the BIB category in droves, and new consumers have appreciated the quality, convenience and value for money that boxed wine brings, as well as the lasting freshness for weeks once it is opened. Boxed wine also brings environmental and sustainability benefits – important for the industry and for consumers taking steps to make more eco-friendly choices. We have worked with our suppliers to move to a recyclable bag within bag-in-box to ensure the format is as sustainable as possible.
Canned wine – a segment that has taken a bit of a hit due to the occasion-led nature, canned drinks will likely be on the up again once restrictions are lifted and the weather brightens, allowing friends and families to meet in private gardens and public spaces again. Cans meet consumer demand for innovation, quality and convenience, appealing particularly to younger drinkers. We launched Mix Up and Vin Crowd during 2020, developed for on-the-go and informal drinking occasions where convenient, refreshing and lower calorie options are in strong demand. All six variants are vegan, which is clearly signposted on each can, tapping into a broader trend for products created without the use of animal products.
Consumer spend has been flipped on its head owing to the pandemic and the sad, intermittent, closure of the on trade; we have seen increases in volume and value spend in the off trade at all price points from £5 upwards. As expected, there is a level of caution, with many consumers watching their spend, meanwhile some see the increase in at home drinking as opposed to on premise drinking as a reason to treat themselves for the weekend through trading up to more premium wines.
Wine sustainability goals
Sustainability is a watchword when it comes to wine – for the packaging, transportation and production. The consumer is increasingly switched on and Covid has only accelerated interest in drinks that deliver both in terms of taste and quality, but also present the opportunity to buy into a brand that’s dedicated to reduce its footprint.
We have partnered with Australian wine brand, The Hidden Sea, which launched a global campaign with ReSea Project to protect the world’s oceans and remove one billion plastic bottles from the ocean by 2030. For every case of wine sold, one kilo of plastic is removed from the ocean and recycled – that’s the equivalent of ten plastic bottles removed for every bottle of The Hidden Sea. The initiative with ReSea Project will certainly resonate with younger drinkers and those who actively make sustainable choices, and enjoy uncomplicated wines with a modern appeal. The Hidden Sea range (Shiraz, Chardonnay, Rosé) is available to retailers now via Kingsland Drinks.
Rosé DOC Prosecco is set to be the drink of 2021. Eagerly anticipated by the drinks trade, and perfectly positioned to ride on the coat tails of consumer appetite for alternative sparkling wines and rose’s natural place as a summer drink, the newly approved regulation to bring this to market promises some serious profit potential. Kingsland Drinks was one of the first wine suppliers to bring rosé Prosecco into the UK, with brands like Corte Molino among the first to hit UK shores.
Online shopping has been one of the saviours during the pandemic. This mindset was already central to how the UK consumer shopped, but restrictions around social distancing have meant a swing towards a preference for online. While this will change over time, as customers crave the face-to-face experience in the longer term, what’s apparent is the opportunity this has presented for smaller brands. Social media has undoubtedly given smaller producers a captive audience and further embedded social platforms into UK shopping culture, allowing brands to engage directly with consumers, sharing their story and brand values to encourage direct sales.
In summary, Covid-19 has been an accelerator for some trends, and it has been a real challenge for the drinks industry to remain agile, proactive, and exciting to meet changing demands with restrictions on consumer lifestyles, as well as in workplaces, on production lines, and in the global supply chain.
We know this has been a tough time for the drinks sector, and for retailers, producers and hospitality venues of all sizes, but we applaud the efforts that have been made, and stand with our customers to offer guidance and support during these uncertain times. Here’s to a successful 2021 – whatever it may bring.