The at-home occasion reignites wine’s appeal

Driven by Covid-19 lockdowns and closure of the on-premise, the rise of the at-home occasion has helped consumers reconnect with wine


Following the impact of the pandemic in 2020, global still and sparkling wine consumption is expected to bounce back in 2021 and inch forward towards recovery. Globally, still wine volume is forecast to remain short of pre-Covid-19 levels by 2024, while sparkling wine is predicted to experience good health throughout the recovery, with parity likely to be restored by 2023.

Underlying the recovery will be opportunities for growth within the digital space, the emergence of new formats as a vehicle for recruitment, increased importance of sustainability and process, as well as the continued evolution of consumption occasions and habits.

While there have been a number of both short- and long-term trend shifts, one of the most widely observed features of the pandemic has been the rise of the at-home occasion.

Although this shift to the at-home occasion varies country-by-country, in many markets, consumption of wine has transitioned well from the on- to off-trade during the pandemic. This has been largely due to the category’s inherent attributes. Canada, for example, saw consumption shift seamlessly from on- to off-trade. With consumers happy to divert unused holiday funds towards personal treats and luxuries, alcohol consumption boomed. Germany’s high off-trade orientation and increased downtime also helped to keep the wine category afloat.

In some markets, the shift to the off-trade was partly slowed down due to the challenges of scaling an ecommerce structure in such a short time. In France for example, the pandemic heavily affected the activity of several large wine specialist sites, with supply issues and delivery challenges extending delays. Nonetheless, there has been a shift towards off-premise consumption in recent years in France, which represents 75% of overall wine sales as of 2019.

“Although wine suffered heavily from the economic and on-trade downturn, the low-tempo nature of lockdown, more time for meal preparation, digital meet-ups and a propensity to treat oneself more often sparked a rediscovery of the category,” says Dan Mettyear, research director at IWSR.

This sense of rediscovery has opened wine up to new at-home occasions, a trend that looks set to remain in the year ahead. Beyond Covid-19, a broader set of trends has been exposing wine to new occasions over a number of years as well.

Sparkling wine, and Prosecco in particular, has spearheaded the diversification of wine’s consumption occasions.

Little appetite for celebration saw sparkling wine suffer heavily in most markets during the pandemic, yet some remarkably positive performances in the US, Russia and Canada will likely help to limit the overall volume declines in 2020.

Overall, sparkling wine is expected to bounce back fast, making a full recovery as early as 2023. This will be led by Prosecco’s continued ability to challenge preconceptions of occasion and functionality within the sparkling wine category.

“Dismantling preconceptions over how and when sparkling wine can be consumed has been an important driver of engagement with new consumers. For years, sparkling wine consumption has been anchored on special occasions and the end-of-year season. However, the broadening of this occasion into more casual, summertime-oriented consumption has been at the core of the category’s steady expansion in recent years,” notes Mettyear.

Catalyst for this change has been the emergence of cocktails that have put sparkling wine into new moments such as mimosas at brunch, which is very popular in markets such as the US, or a spritz before lunch or early evening – popular with consumers in parts of Europe and Australia. This has allowed the category to steadily move away from its one-dimensional image as a special celebratory drink to align with more regular occasions.

With its glamorous lifestyle associations and refreshing taste profile, the booming rosé category works across a number of social situations as well. Importantly, rosé is one of the few areas within the wine world to which the ‘lifestyle’ label can be attached. More generally, lighter style wines are attracting new consumers with their accessibility and versatility.

As a result, the category has been a magnet for a wave of celebrity-backed or even celebrity-owned brands that are helping to consolidate the lifestyle element of the rosé trend and reach out to new consumers. Cameron Diaz is one of the latest stars to join a growing legion of celebrity rosé brand partners that includes Post Malone, Kylie Minogue, Sarah Jessica Parker, Mary J Blige, John Legend, Jon Bon Jovi, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.

“In many ways, the at-home occasion has helped consumers reconnect with wine. Industry drivers that have been making the category more approachable and accessible to new segments of the market will continue to shape wine innovation as well,” remarks Mettyear.

You may also be interested in reading:

5 key trends that will shape the global beverage alcohol market in 2021
Global wine trends to watch in 2021
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