What is driving the trend toward canned wine? The overarching answer is millennial consumers, who increasingly choose wine over beer. As young consumers encompass more of the category’s sales, the wine industry is bending to their attitudes and preferences.
Millennials consider wine a relaxed social beverage that sits alongside beer and cocktails in a myriad of social occasions; for these younger consumers, wine isn’t just for meal pairing and celebration: it is appropriate for the beach, at music festivals, floating in a pool, tailgating at a football game or at the summit of a long hike. For the millennial consumer, wine is appropriate everywhere, and therefore needs packaging that can go anywhere.
The millennial market is highly engaged with health and wellness, a trend that is impacting the alcohol industry in many ways. This group is the main driver in the move toward moderation, which has pushed low ABV products to the fore and shone a light on the need for portion control – ranging in sizes from single-serve 187ml cans to 500ml tallboys, canned wine offers smaller portions than a standard 750ml bottle.
As an added bonus, these smaller formats are more likely to encourage trial among adventurous consumers who don’t want to commit to an entire bottle; this is undoubtedly pushing canned wine into the market more quickly, as its low price point (often just USD $4–$7 per can) make it an easy sell to new consumers.
Conscious of their own impact on the natural world, millennials are seeking out packaging choices that are environmentally sustainable. Cans are sustainable in multiple ways: the smaller format can reduce waste amongst consumers who perhaps won’t finish an entire 750ml bottle before its contents spoil.
And, for the environment, the choice between bottle and can is clear: aluminium cans are lighter to ship, meaning they use less fossil fuel in transit, greatly reducing the environmental impact of the wine category in a country that produces most of its wine on the west coast and then ships it east. Cans are also infinitely recyclable and are more likely to be recycled than glass bottles. According to a US Aluminum Association report, nearly 50% of aluminium cans are recycled in the US, versus less than 40% of glass packaging. As sustainability becomes an increasingly vital topic for consumers, businesses and governments, cans are set to become even more popular.
Craft Beer’s Impact on Perceptions of the Can Format
One big question is this: can consumers trust the quality of a canned wine? As products launch from respected producers such as California-based craft winery Field Recordings, the answer, increasingly, is ‘yes’. Nevertheless, these products were not the first to elevate the can format: craft beer has been repositioning cans in consumers’ minds for many years. This has ushered in an expectation for affordable premiumization and elevated the lowly can beyond soft drinks and domestic lagers, setting the stage for canned wine.
Driven by millennial preferences, canned wine is on the rise in the US. The category has grown exponentially in sales over the past two years.
The smaller format of cans addresses many millennial consumer desires, including moderation and portion control; portability; sustainability and waste reduction; ease of trial and affordability.
Much like craft beer before it, the craft wine industry has elevated the can format, and now larger producers are following suit.
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