Can almost 1600 wine drinkers determine the overall behavior of wine consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond?
Wine Opinions (WO) set out to answer that question in July 2020 with a survey intended to track changes in wine purchasing and consumption after about 90 days of sheltering in place amidst widespread restaurant closings.
The survey’s focus was on consumers responsible for more than 80% of wine consumption, referred to as high frequency (consume wine a few times a week, or daily), as well as $20-plus wine buyers responsible for the lion’s share of wine sales of over $20 in 750 ml packaging.
WO Founder and CEO, John Gillespie wanted to establish the “net change in consumption frequency of wine, beer, and spirits in the April—June  period.”
In addition, WO sought to track potential shifts in wine purchases by region or countr and wine-buying motivations, as well as try to identify not only current but predicted future wine consumption, shopping and visitations.
Of 1,590 survey participants, 1,304 were high frequency wine consumers—611 of them regularly spent $20 or more on a bottle of wine.
286 participants said they consume wine occasionally (no more than once a week).
The highlights of the high frequency survey results include:
- Compared with the same 3-month period in 2019, Apr-June 2020 high frequency consumers bought “somewhat” more wine in the $15-$19.99 price range and “significantly” more wine in the over $20 range.
- 35% of high frequency consumers increased their California wine buys; 16% increased their Italian wine buys; and 11% increased their French wine buys.
- Over the Apr-June 2020 period more than half the high frequency consumers engaged in “Zoom” meetings or other online chats while consuming wine.
- By the end of the 3-month period, after relying mainly on deliveries, 78% of high frequency consumers returned to in-store retail buying.
- 48% of high frequency wine consumers reported an increase in their weekly consumption, with Millennials reporting the greatest increases.
Of the high frequency consumers 42% are Baby Boomers or older, 21% Generation X, 32% Millennials and 5% Generation Z.
Gillespie says, “In the near term, the retail sales gains since March—including direct to consumer—should continue at or near the current levels, as a net 48% of high frequency wine drinkers are reporting increased consumption.”
Gillespie’s outlook for the future includes a “…cultural change that could emerge from the current crisis…” and that, “…Millennials, in significant numbers, may have their “great awakening” to wine and dominate the wine market for the next two decades in terms of both per capita consumption and purchasing at every price point.”