This article is part one in a two-part online series about how restaurants can adapt their offerings and menus to wine drinkers. Click here for part two!
There is not just one type of wine consumer, as any restaurateur knows. Constellation Brands, a produce and marketer of beer, wine, and spirits, has taken the postulation a step further, labeling and defining six categories that will help restaurants guide their offerings.
Constellation Brands last month unveiled its latest phase of its Project Genome, a comprehensive study of the evolution of the wine consumer. The company found that there are three new categories of wine drinkers in the market that did not exist 10 years ago: Engaged Newcomers, Everyday Loyals, and Price Driven consumers.
They join the Overwhelmed, Image Seekers, and Enthusiasts. Constellation Brands' study covered all price points in the industry, digging into what inspires purchasing decisions, and FSR spoke with the company to learn how restaurants can guarantee their wine lists meet consumers' needs.
"All six of these segments are dining in your establishment at some point in time," says Dale Stratton, vice president of consumer insights of Constellation Brands' Wine & Spirit Division. "The design of your wine program is a key element for them."
The three new categories of consumers—Engaged Newcomers, Everyday Loyals, and Price Driven—replace categories that existed in 2004, pre-recession: the Satisfied Sipper, the Traditionalist, and the Savvy Shopper. It’s not just the recession that transformed wine drinkers’ habits over the past decade, though.
"The wine consumer now is much more informed and has much more information to help guide their decision making or just become involved in the category," Stratton explains. "The availability of information has led to a much better-educated consumer, which I also thinks leads to more experimentation and trying new things. And we're seeing a broader range of people who are willing to move outside of traditional varietals, try new regions, and try different formats."
Overall, Cabernet and Chardonnay are the top two varietals, but consumers are admitting to drinking more sweet sips. All of the segments are also drinking sparkling wines equally, which restaurateurs should take note of.
A rundown of the six categories of wine consumer:
- Price Driven (21 percent of consumers): Price is a top consideration. These consumers believe they can buy good wine without spending a lot.
"This is something that we've seen in Genome that's changed over time from 2004 to 2014: there are lots of great wines at lower price points, and by having even more offerings in that price, it keeps [Price Driven consumers] in the category and continues to bring them in," says Indira Augustin, director of consumer insights, Constellation Brands' Wine & Spirits Division.
- Everyday Loyals (20 percent of consumers): Wine drinking is a part of these consumers' regular routine, and when they find a brand they like, they stick with it.
"Something for the Everyday Loyal that's really interesting is, it allows restaurants to really build a relationship with the consumer," Augustin says. While most consumers have a large repertoire, "this Everyday Loyal has a small repertoire, which means she's using five to six brands on a regular basis, and it allows restaurants to go deeper and really build that relationship and interaction with her that ends up building loyalty over time."
- Overwhelmed (19 percent of consumers): Overwhelmed consumers drink wine, but unlike the Everyday Loyals, it does not play an important part in their lives. In fact, Overwhelmed consumers don't enjoy shopping for wine, because the process is too complex and distressing for them. The best thing a restaurant can do for this consumer, who makes up nearly one-fifth of consumers, is offer a known quantity on the wine list.
"For this person, it's important that you do have some products on the wine list that are familiar to them," Stratton says. "That can come in the form of varietal, that can come in the form of brand—just something that they can find some comfort in, in making their decision."
- Image Seekers (18 percent of consumers): For these imbibers, the wine they choose makes a statement to the world about what kind of person they are. These drinkers tend toward sweeter wines, are often younger consumers, and are also influenced by endorsements. They're willing to experiment with their wines, Stratton says, and Augustin notes they are also driving the growth in red wine blends and Moscato.
- Engaged Newcomers (12 percent of consumers): New to the category and excited about it, Engaged Newcomers are a prime segment for restaurants to target, because they eat out often, are younger, and will continue to drive wine trends. Mostly Millennials, these drinkers are coming into the category already more familiar with wine than their predecessors were. Stratton says this category, along with the Enthusiasts, are more likely to accept variations in form, such as wines on tap.
- Enthusiasts (10 percent of consumers): While they make up only one-tenth of wine consumers, Enthusiasts are the backbone of the industry, Stratton says, because they enjoy wine on a very regular basis, have a good income, and participate in on-premise locations actively. "You have to make sure that for the Enthusiast that's coming in there, you have something that's of interest to them and exciting to them. It might be a little more esoteric, or just something a little bit different," Stratton says.
By Sonya Chudgar