Wine: Path to Purchase

Photograph: Judith Collins/Alamy

Competition for wine sales in restaurants and bars is fierce as myriad brands vie for menu space and consumer attention. On-premise wine sales are expected to increase only slightly in volume this year, according to our WineTAB Report, so it’s a take-share market. Understanding the consumer path to purchase is crucial for suppliers and operators alike as they seek to grow wine sales. To that end, when do consumers decide to order wine and what factors are most influential? 

One quarter of consumers decide on wine before entering the restaurant (15%) or before they’re seated (11%), according to our recent On-Premise Wine study. Frequent or wine-knowledgeable consumers are most likely to identify wine as their beverage of choice before crossing the threshold or reaching the table. The remainder – and majority (74%) – of consumers decide to order wine when seated at the table or when looking at the menu. 

Flavor is by far the most important attribute for consumers when choosing a wine in a restaurant or bar, followed by varietal and the type of food they’re eating. Price ranks as the fourth most important attribute overall.

These insights point to the importance of raising the visibility of the concept’s wine program so it’s part of the where-to-dine decision, and the crucial role of the menu and server in selling wine at the table. Highlighting flavor attributes in accessible language, including varietal and style information and food pairing suggestions will also heighten the appeal of the wine selection and likelihood of purchase, as will attractive price points. 

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