Less Is More: What Is Driving Consumer Choices In 2018

Posted: Mar 27, 2018

Less is more: what’s driving consumer choices in 2018

Two years ago, the first issue of our Market Bulletin gave a brief overview of trends in domestic sales in 2014–15. For our 100th issue, we examine the main global trends driving consumer behaviour in 2018 and what they mean for the domestic wine market in the next few years.

In September 2017, the International Wine and Spirit Record (IWSR) said that ‘the global alcoholic drinks market is evolving at a faster rate than ever before’. Considering this and that the global alcohol market spans such a range of cultures and economic circumstances – not to mention product categories – it might seem challenging to identify common consumer trends. However, there have been some consistent themes identified recently by several wine market analysis companies including IWSR, Euromonitor International, IRI Market Edge and Wine Intelligence. Drawing from those analyses, we examine three trends that have relevance to the domestic wine market.

The rise of craft and artisan products

One of these themes is described by Euromonitor International (2018) as the ‘sleuthy shopper’ – the consumer who increasingly seeks out the story behind the product, including its provenance, production methods and craftmanship.

Integrity is a part of this trend; consumers hold companies to high standards of behaviour in dealing with suppliers as well as customers. IWSR describe a similar trend they call ‘craft evolution’, which has led to a rapid rise in artisanal brands across all alcohol segments but particularly beer. ‘Brewpubs’, where consumers can see the beer being made and form relationships with the brewer, are becoming increasingly popular especially in the USA – to the extent that (according to Euromonitor) Starbucks is testing the concept with on-site coffee roasting in its cafes.

Wine businesses are well-placed to capitalise on this consumer trend by focusing on building and communicating the story behind their wines. The 2016–17 Small Winemaker Production and Sales survey showed that there is already a trend towards increased investment in diversified and personalised visitor experiences around the cellar door.


It is no surprise that a global consumer trend, not just in alcoholic drinks, is the increasing role of the internet in retail.

New research by Australia Post based on parcel delivery volumes estimates that total e-commerce spending on physical goods grew by 19.2 per cent in 2017 to $21.3 billion. The rate of growth had accelerated from 2016, when it grew by 11.5 per cent. Australia Post reports that the major factors for people shopping online were lower prices, access to a wider range of products, convenience and retailers improving their online service.

With online wine sales in Australia growing from 6 per cent in 2011 to 11 per cent in 2016 and global internet retailing value expected to increase by 13 per cent in 2018 (Euromonitor International), it is important not to ignore this sales channel.

Digitisation does not just mean e-commerce, it includes digital marketing and the provision of information to consumers via apps and websites, which are becoming increasingly important in influencing consumer choice. IRI (2017) described the ‘connected consumer’ and predicted that 8 out of 10 purchase decisions would involve the internet in some way within two years.

However, online shopping is currently disadvantaged in not allowing a ‘try before you buy’ experience. Therefore, the rise of augmented reality technology, which enables better visualisation of products online, will be an important trend in 2018 and beyond. Euromonitor describes the new ‘view in my roomer’ consumers, who will use augmented reality technology to engage with products – e.g. trying on clothes in ‘digital dressing rooms’ or visualising furniture in their homes.

In the wine sector, augmented reality has been used to create a ‘talking label’ – feeding into the ‘story-telling’ trend as well; the challenge will be to fully exploit this new technology to influence consumer choice and drive increased online sales.


Another significant global consumer trend is an increasing health consciousness – related to both physical and mental health. IWSR refers to this trend as ‘wellness’, which manifests in drinking less alcohol and/or lower alcohol products, as well as choosing low-carb drinks and even organic or ‘natural’ products. Euromonitor International identifies a similar trend as ‘clean living’ and notes that no/low alcohol beer is expected to increase by 50 per cent between 2011 and 2021, whereas the normal beer category is flat. IRI and Wine Intelligence define this trend more broadly, including the dimensions of ‘indulgence’ and ‘personal well-being’, which drive the purchase of treats that tend to be premium quality but smaller quantities. This overlaps the craft evolution trend and the overall premiumisation trend that has seen global wine sales increase by an average of 3 per cent per year in value over the past 10 years, while volume has only increased by 0.5–1 per cent each year (Euromonitor International).

Trends in other sectors offer valuable insights. For example, recently in the Australian dairy category, sales have increased for full cream milk, full fat cheese and butter while sales have declined for low fat milk, low fat cheese and margarine. These outcomes reflect the trend towards naturally healthy whole foods.

In the domestic alcohol beverages market, the five fastest growing categories in 2017 were related to health and well-being. The top three are beer sub-categories – mid-strength beer, craft beer and low-carb beer. The next two fastest growing categories were wine sub-categories. Craft beer and Shiraz play to the ‘less-of-the-best’ trend while mid-strength/low-carb beer and rosé are perceived as lighter, healthier options.

Health and well-being are key drivers in the decline in the number of ‘every day’ drinkers in most mature wine markets in the past 10 years (see figure 1).

Figure 1 – Change in percentage of regular drinkers who drink wine every day or most days

Source: Wine Intelligence

In the 10-year period from 2007, Wine Intelligence found that the percentage of Australian regular wine drinkers consuming wine everyday/most days has significantly declined, a trend that is in line with other developed markets. This is believed to be primarily driven by health and wellness concerns of the drinkers, in addition to pressure from innovation in other categories of alcoholic beverages.

The impact of the wellness trend in wine consumption, as well other global trends in the marketplace, will be explored by Wine Intelligence at their Global trends, innovation and brand power workshop to be held in Adelaide on 10 April 2018.

Source: Wineaustralia.com 
March 27, 2018

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