Sparkling wine has cemented its status as an established part of the UK wine market, thanks to a maturing consumer base that is increasingly confident in its choices and happy to treat it as a more casual, everyday beverage option.
However, there are signs of increasingly negative perceptions of Prosecco, which could impede its future performance – and there are mixed trends in terms of younger adult consumers, with fewer under-25s entering the category over the past few years.
Expanding market share
Outside of a spike during Covid-19, the UK wine market has been on a downward volume trajectory since 2015. Sparkling wine was the only wine sub-category to experience some volume growth between 2017 and 2022, with a CAGR of +0.4% versus total wine’s -2% CAGR over the same timescale.
Although IWSR forecasts predict a relatively flat sparkling wine volume CAGR between 2022 and 2027, this comes against the backdrop of an expected total wine CAGR of -2% over the same period, meaning that sparkling is poised to expand its share of the overall wine category from 12% in 2017 and 14% in 2022 to 15% in 2027.
A growing wine-drinking population
The sparkling wine-drinking population in the UK has grown since 2019: 30% of the UK adult population now consumes sparkling wine at least once a month, up from 25% in 2019.
One of the key trends driving increased consumption is a shift in the perception of sparkling wine as being mainly or exclusively confined to celebratory occasions. “Sparkling wine is increasingly seen as suitable for relaxed, end-of-day drinking and informal meals at home, whether on its own or as part of a spritz cocktail,” notes Patrick Fisher, Market Analyst, IWSR. “This is a continuation of trends that took root during the Covid-19 pandemic.”
As sparkling wine becomes a more established part of the UK beverage alcohol landscape, consumers are showing a tendency to purchase tried and trusted labels: 41% of sparkling wine drinkers surveyed in 2023 said they tend to stick to the products they know, up from 37% in 2019.
At the same time, a higher proportion of consumers are now saying that drinking sparkling wine gives them pleasure, that they have a strong interest in it and that it is important to their lifestyle.
“Enthusiasm for the sparkling wine category has increased, but drinkers are increasingly rigid and stick to the sparkling wines they know,” says Richard Halstead, COO Consumer Research, IWSR. “This could be because new drinkers who entered the category during the pandemic are becoming more certain about what they enjoy.”
Early signs of Prosecco Fatigue?
Meanwhile, consumer perceptions of the quality and value for money status of Prosecco – the clear category leader with over 50% share of sparkling wine volumes in the UK in 2022 – are trending negative.
“In recent years, Prosecco has performed very well in the market, and still leads in terms of recalled consumption,” says Halstead. “However, there are signs that the category may be doing less well. Fewer see it as high-quality or good value for money.
“Prosecco could be a victim of its own success, with its ubiquity meaning that drinkers may increasingly associate it with lesser-quality versions of the beverage. This decline in perception could impact the performance of Prosecco in the UK, while other categories like English sparkling and Crémant compete for market share.”
Prosecco volumes in the UK fluctuated between 2017 and 2022, but the overall absolute volume change remained relatively flat 2022 vs 2017. Prosecco’s category share declined by just over -2% as a result. IWSR forecasts predict a mild decline in the years to come.
Nonetheless, Prosecco’s forecast decline still constitutes a better performance than some other sparkling wine sub-categories, such as Asti and Cava. English sparkling wines and no-/low-alcohol sparkling are among the few sub-categories expected to grow between 2022 and 2027. Prosecco’s category share of the total sparkling wine market will fall slightly to 55% by the end of the forecast period. Sparkling wines, and lighter ABV Proseccos in particular, are also amongst the few alcohol segments to have benefitted from the 2023 UK duty reforms.
Waning recruitment to the category
Beyond signs of ‘Prosecco Fatigue’, concerns for the future of sparkling wine in the UK chiefly centre on the recruitment of younger adult consumers to the category.
Although younger adult men are frequent category participants – while 34% of male sparkling wine consumers drink it weekly, that figure rises to 52% for the LDA to 34 years old age group – fewer people in the LDA to 24 years old age bracket are now engaged with sparkling. That demographic constituted 13% of sparkling wine consumers in 2019, but only 9% in 2023.
“This phenomenon could be a consequence of broader moderation trends among younger LDA consumers, and of increased competition from rival categories, such as RTDs,” says Halstead. “The category’s potential issue with recruiting younger adult drinkers could pose a threat to its long-term future.
“Nonetheless, sparkling wine’s recent upward trajectory in the UK is a welcome highlight for a wine market that remains in overall volume decline. Consumers are increasingly confident and knowledgeable about the category, and sparkling wine has, for many of them, become an established fixture of their everyday drinking repertoires – transcending its historical reliance on celebrations and special occasions.”
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