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Between moderation, cross-category consumption and beyond: here are the wine trends in the U.S.

Premiumization continues, but ready-to-drink wine-based, low and no-alcohol wines and more are growing. The analysis by importer and distributor Mhw
Wine trends in the US, including moderation, cross-category consumption and beyond, by Mhw

With its 1.86 billion euros of Italian wine imports in 2022 (+8.3% over 2021, Istat data), the United States, net of growth in many other areas of the world, remains the top foreign partner of Italian wineries. It is a thriving market, actually made up of many different states, some mature or almost saturated, others still all to be explored, but with common trends, which MaryAnn Pisani, who has been working in the U.S. market for more than 30 years, and is Chief Revenue Officer by Mhw, one of the largest importers and distributors of wine in the U.S., with licenses for all 50 states in the country, told WineNews, from ProWein, in Dusseldorf, which closes today. And among the most important trends, Pisani points out one that is not new, “because it’s a phenomenon we’ve been recording for 20 years”, but one that is accelerating in every channel, whether it’s out-of-home, home consumption or e-commerce, which is that of premiumization.
“It is now a structural phenomenon, and the data also say so. In the last year, for example, lower-priced wines have lost market share, while premium and luxury wines have grown 1.2 percent, and have, for the first time, exceeded 10% share of the total market. And Nielsen data say the price point at the shelf between $20 and $25 is growing the most”. But beyond the cold numbers, while important, it is the social phenomena that are changing the market.
“Young people, but not only, now share their whole lives on social, and the moments of toasts or celebrations are among the most popular, and also for this reason”, MaryAnn Pisani pointed out, “sparkling wines and rosés are growing a lot because they are very suitable for photos on social networks like Instagram”. Still, an increasingly cross-category consumption emerges, because if in the past there were clusters of consumers with sharper choices, today those who drink mostly wine also drink beer or other beverages even in the same consumption occasion such as a dinner or a party, and also there is not much consumer loyalty to one particular brand over another.
Looking, in particular, at young people and Gen Z, Pisani pointed out, “First of all, it is a generation that drinks more moderately than previous generations. They are young people who want to have fun without losing control, and they are very health-conscious, and it is no coincidence that wines and low-alcohol or zero-alcohol drinks are growing a lot. So are Ready-to-drinks, also wine-based: overall, in 2020, there were just under 1,000 references on the market, today we are at more than 1,600”. And then there is the big issue of “sustainability”. A theme “that involves every aspect, not only wine, with the whole “organic” world having a lot of appeal, but also the environmental aspect, starting with packaging, but also social, with consumers who are increasingly careful to reward brands and companies that respect certain ethical values, from respect for workers, suppliers and so on”.
In short, the American market today is “more dynamic than in the past, bigger but also more competitive. Consumers are curious, informed about products, looking for quality but they also want to know the stories of the wineries, how they work and so on, and telling these things is very important, as is continuing to educate the consumer”. Important trends and insights for everyone, including Italian producers. “And there are many realities capable of reading these trends and interpreting them in the best way, in an effective way, but also many others, especially among the small family-run realities, very tied to their tradition and way of working, that are struggling more. In any case, the U.S. market, it is worth remembering, is a strong market, with great potential but very complex: each area or state has in its own specific trends, its own laws, and each must be studied well to understand which ones to invest in. You need strong preparation, it is not enough to be present: working in the U.S. is like working in 50 different markets”.

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