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“Out of home” resists the crisis. But new generations are distant from wine

Federvini-TradeLab: consumption slightly grew in 2023. Bubbles good, cocktails “king” of aperitifs (worth 4.5 billion euros)
The aperitivo is an indispensable moment of conviviality for Italians

Habits are hard to give up, especially established ones that represent a “plus” within the day. Such as eating and drinking “outside the home”, a universe made up of conviviality, and therefore aperitifs (above all, protagonists of a real boom), dinners, lunches, and that turns out to be an opportunity to meet people and, why not, have a good drink in company. But in a scenario where inflation is running (with many bars and restaurants having raised prices) how is the out-of-home market doing?
According to data from the Federvini Observatory and TradeLab, consumption of wines and spirits, in 2023, showed a slight growth (+0.2%) over the past year with bubbles excelling by registering +7%. Down were bitters (-6%), which paid for a decline in nightclub attendance but held up in high-end restaurants. In total, there were 1.46 billion consumptions in 2023, 819 million involved the wine and bubbly category and 643 million spirits. Of the total share, wine takes 40% (+1% over 2022), cocktails 25% (+1%), sparkling wines 16%, bitters and sweet liqueurs 13%, and still spirits 6% (-11%). Drinking wine outside the home thus remains an established habit: according to Tradelab data, 39% drink it at lunch, 42% at dinner, and 11% at aperitifs.
Out of home, for the alcoholic beverages market, net of some elements of inhomogeneity and signs of contraction in the summer period, in 2023, was confirmed to be stable, but also dynamic and changeable given the attention shown by consumers to new trends, and to the quality of selected drinks. On the other hand, for 80% of Italians, going out is an opportunity for conviviality and sociability,
ideal for meeting friends (for 62%), but also going out as a couple (22%), reasons that far exceed those of making new acquaintances, doing something with the family and having an informal moment with clients or colleagues, none of these three in fact touching double digits.
Consumers have varied choices, with 84% saying they drink beer and wine outside the home and do so always or often, in 27% and 20% of cases, respectively. 75% consume alcoholic cocktails away from home, but 20% do so always/often, a figure that drops for sparkling wines (73% referred to out of home, 13% for frequency). The nonlinearity of consumption depends on “occasions”, channels frequented, but also on the cravings of the moment: less than one in three consumers are loyal to a product category, 40%, in out-of-home, change the drink according to the occasion of consumption, 16% do it always, 15% change according to the channel of consumption. Only 27% say they always consume the same type of beverage.
Wine is the favorite drink at lunch (45%), ahead of beer (30%), which, on the other hand, is the most popular drink at dinner (56% vs. wine's 25%), but wine loses share as the daylight dims: for aperitifs, alcoholic cocktails win (37%), ahead of beer (25%), sparkling wine (16%) and wine (12%); in the after-dinner period, beer returns to the lead (39%), preceding alcoholic cocktails (28%), spirits (10%), wine and bitters (both at 8%). Gen Z, at the evening aperitif, actually disregards wine by choosing cocktails and spirits. Analyzing “when” the 1.5 billion drinks are consumed in the out-of-home, dinner is ahead with 29%, evening aperitif at 25%, lunch at 24%, pre-lunch aperitif 10%, after dinner/night 8%, on breaks 3%. The distribution is throughout the week (40% on weekends), while as for the breakdown the most popular place is gourmet restaurant (23%) which is ahead of daytime bar (21%), mid-range restaurant and evening bar (17%), risto/pizza (8%), disco (7%) and festivals (5%). Regarding the frequency of pairing, 8 times out of 10, on average, Italians accompany food with an alcoholic beverage, 46% in fact do so “almost always”, 33% “always”, and 22 “sometimes”.
Coming to the numbers of the evening aperitif in Italy, 14 million do it, for a total of 582 million aperitifs that generate 4.5 billion euros of expenditure (7.7 euros is the average expenditure for an aperitif). It is a growing consumption occasion and not only because of its social value, but also because of its excellent “value for money” ratio, so much so that 22% of Italians would like to have more aperitifs. A cross-sectional phenomenon, aperitifs appeal to the 18-25 age group (15%), 26-39 age group (27%), 40-55 age group (34%) and 56-75 age group (24%). The preference goes to alcoholic cocktails (191 million consumed), bubbles (84 million) and wine (63 million). The preferred occasion is with friends (58%), as a couple (38%) and with family members (16%).
For Bruna Boroni of Trade Lab, “wine plays an important role because it is present in different occasions of consumption and has a strong transversality, we also think of bubbles that are consumed by all generations and in different occasions ranging from aperitif to dinner to after dinner. We find wine again when Italians go out to be with friends, family or colleagues and in general to spend a moment of pleasantness, especially in this moment where the macro-economic context is asking Italians to make important renunciations on other spending chapters. Especially alcoholic cocktails manage to “engage” the very young more easily than wine, I'm thinking of Generation Z, but a recent analysis showed how they are also interested in wine, especially white wine, which is perhaps the category on which producers can most easily bring them into this world”.

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