Wine Australia has engaged Wine Opinions to conduct a five-year research project to identify the opportunities for further market share expansion of Australia’s regional and premium price segment wines in the United States (US) market.
The US is the world’s largest wine market and Australia’s second biggest export market by value. However, the Australian wine category has lost ground in the US since 2007, and has since struggled to make in-roads at the premium end of the market.
The feedback from Australian wine companies participating at this end of the market is that the trade represents a significant barrier to reaching the US consumer. Thus, for the Australian category to be re-vitalised in the US, insights into the motivations of the trade and how they perceive the Australian category are required. The primary focus is to assess the current strengths and weaknesses, as well as future viability of increased market share for Australian wines by type, region and price segment (in both the on-premise and off-premise channels).
The research campaign commenced in 2015 and will conclude in 2019.
How were the findings collected?
The research uses quantitative and qualitative analysis of the current standing and opportunities for growth across the distributor, on-premise and off-premise channels (internet retailers as well as bricks and mortar stores), including both chains and major independents.
Information is to be collected through trade and consumer surveys, online trade discussion groups and sales data analysis over five years. Wine Opinions utilise their proprietary national trade (2 900 people) and consumer (9 800 people) panels.
Reports have been released been released annually and can be found on the Wine Australia website here.
- 2015 – Wine.Com analysis, Qualitative Trade Survey, Trade Discussion Group
- 2016 – Qualitative Consumer Survey, One-on-one Trade interviews
- 2017 – Wine.Com analysis, Qualitative Consumer Survey, Qualitative Trade Survey
Some of the key takeaways after the first three years
‘Fortunately, the “critter” label fad seems to be declining and people are leaning more towards higher quality, higher priced Australian wines.’
- Lisa, Distributor, CA
- Red blends (e.g. Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre (GSM)), Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz offer the best growth potential for Australian red varieties. Riesling and Chardonnay are the pick of the whites.
- The trade suggests that US$15–25 per bottle offers the best growth potential for Australian wine.
- At least half of the consumers surveyed would be willing to spend at least $20 on a wine from Australia.
- One reason the largest contingent of respondents does not buy Australian wine more than once a year, less often or never, is because they haven’t tried many or know much about Australian wines. This suggests that awareness is the issue, not taste.
- The majority of respondents who purchase Australian wine at least a few times a year, agree that that awareness of small, artisanal wineries is low among consumers, that Australian wine is food-friendly, and that Australian wines offer a lot of flavour for the money.
- Among those who buy Australian wine at least a few times a year, Shiraz is the Australian wine that has been purchased in the past two years by the most respondents, and was rated higher on quality than other Australian wine varieties or wine types. Although not purchased by as many respondents, GSM blends, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon received high quality ratings.
- Shiraz is competing with Spanish reds, Italian reds, and US red blends. Consumers who are buying less Shiraz are buying more Spanish and Italian red wine, and more red blends. On the other hand, consumers who are buying more Shiraz are buying less California Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, and less Malbec.
- Shiraz is divisive among the trade. Some regard it as their best seller, and some have experienced decreasing Shiraz sales. Some have had great success selling Shiraz at higher price points, while others felt Shiraz was mired under $15.
- Among interesting points made and experiences mentioned was the opinion that dry Riesling has an advantage for Australia because not many countries make quality dry Riesling.
- There is a gradual shift away from viewing Australia only as a producer of value wines, in a single style from a prominent variety.
- Australians are perceived as being cheerful, friendly and laidback. However, this is not a barrier to Australian sales or trading up consumers of Australian wines. Those who buy Australian wines or Australian high-end wines are actually more likely to agree with this.
- For some of these participating retailers and distributors, Australian wine sales have been increasing. In these cases, gains have been in the higher price categories, specific combinations of variety and appellation, and among wines that are made in a ‘dry and more serious style.’