The First Trends Numbers of 2013

Where’s the sweet spot? The price that customers welcome and look for? What and when are they buying, and why? Obviously, these are shifting targets, depending on who you are and where you do business, but two recent studies might help clarify an operator’s decisions as 2013 starts.

In the first report, the question is once again raised: how do operators combat fourth quarter slowdowns? On-premise alcohol sales were down 1.5% in the fourth quarter of 2012, according to information gathered by GuestMetrics. Total alcoholic beverages sold on-premise were flat for the first nine months of the year compared to the same period in 2011, the firm reports. The fourth-quarter sluggishness was evident in all three beverage alcohol categories - wine volume sunk three percent, while both beer and spirits volumes dropped 1.5 percent.

With wine, the largest area of decline occurred just below the top end - super-premium and premium tiers were the biggest losers, while ultra-premium wines slowed least. The premium segment also suffered the most among beer and spirits.

What about that mixed message from wine at the premium, super-premium and ultra-premium segments? In advance of the upcoming 2013 Wine Market Council Research Conferences, the group announced several findings from their research on luxury wine buyers.

Key results include the finding that of the wines core wine drinkers purchase in the $30 or more price category, 58 percent is domestic wine. (Core wine drinkers are defined as those who drink wine at least once a week.) Also, “luxury’ wine is perceived by nearly half (47 percent) of core wine-drinking consumers as wine that costs between $75 and $99, and by the majority of core wine-drinking consumers (60 percent) as wine that costs over $100.

One customer’s luxury is another’s requirement, and how luxury is defined at the various food service segments is another matter altogether. More on this topic at the end of January, after the Council unveils their research on luxury wine buyers, data from Nielsen on the state of the wine market and the latest findings from the council’s annual tracking study. In addition, Dr. Gregory Carpenter will compare two perspectives—why consumers value wine and how winemakers and others in the wine business create value for consumers—and will explore strategies for bridging the gap between winemakers and consumers to create brand growth. Also coming up soon: The Distilled Spirits Council’s report on spirit trends from 2012.


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