Allegrini 2018

The effects of the lockdown on domestic wine consumption: Italy drank more too

Online purchases are growing: in the research of the start-up Sommelier Wine Box the impact of confinement on habits and frequency of consumption
Domestic wine consumption, between lockdowns

Investigating the impact of lockdown on the consumption of wine in Italy, a product which by its very nature is linked to many different occasions of consumption, from domestic use to restaurants, during meals, as an aperitif, a physical and tangible product, but also an experiential one, easily associated with visits to wineries and vineyards, and then to tourism, investigating the impact of forced confinement on quantity, frequency and occasions of purchase and consumption of wine in Italy, with the aim of contributing to return a complete portrait, based on data and their analysis, of the impact that the crisis has had on the wine world: these are the main points of the research “How the outbreak of the pandemic has affected wine consumption in Italy - Situation, trends and challenges”, signed by the wine e-commerce start-up Sommelier Wine Box.
The results are interesting in each of the directions analyzed. The volume of wine consumed during the lockdown tended to increase, but a pattern emerges whereby those who drank more often before the lockdown were less affected by the lockdown, while those who drank less were more impacted, increasing consumption in most cases (and for a minority decreasing consumption a lot). The primary occasion of consumption was dinner. Regardless of age and previous occasions of consumption: those who drank wine during the lockdown did so primarily at dinner. However, those who already drank with meals prior to the lockdown also began consuming wine on other occasions such as online appetizers. Online purchase volumes also increased during the lockdown. Moreover, those who tried the channel for the first time during the lockdown were generally satisfied.

Going to analyze the different phases of the Sommelier Wine Box research, before the lockdown 52% of the respondents drank at least 1 bottle of wine every 4-5 days. The preferred places for the consumption of wine were: home or friends' homes and restaurants. It should be noticed young people are more and more looking for direct experiences with producers, as shown by the trend of consumption in cellars, which decreases as age increases. 41% of respondents say they bought wine online before lockdown, respondents between 35 and 44 years old reach 49%. Men on average bought wine online more than women (45% vs 36%) but among those over 40 the tendency to buy wine online was higher in women (43% vs 40% of men).
The impact of lockdown is evident as early as respondents’ activities during home confinement, which are found to be influenced by age. Younger respondents studied or educated themselves; older respondents tended to read. Instead, activities common to all age clusters were watching movies/TV/series and trying their hand at cooking. Forty-eight percent of respondents said they changed their wine consumption, increasing it, during the lockdown compared to the previous period. As the frequency of consumption of pre-lockdown wine decreases, the impact of the lockdown itself increases, with the majority of respondents who changed their habits, generally increasing or slightly decreasing the consumption of wine. Therefore lockdown had an impact in relation to the purchase of wine online: 50% of respondents recorded changes in their purchasing behaviors, either because they started buying wine online or because they increased their purchase volume.
Going back to pre-lockdown consumption occasions: those who assigned a rating of 7 or higher to wine consumption at wineries have the highest percentage of constituents who started buying online and continued because they were satisfied with the experience, compared to those who preferred other pre-lockdown occasions (33%, compared to 22% average). Conversely, those who assigned a rating of 7 or higher to wine consumption at wine events had a much higher than average percentage of using the online channel even before lockdown (58%, versus 41% average). These two data offer some food for thought. The first one is that wine lovers appreciate the online channel more than “normal” consumers. The second is that there is an opportunity in trying to transfer the experiential component of wine even without a physical presence.
A final reasoning should be dedicated to the online purchasing behaviors of wine between men and women. It is interesting to notice there is absolute parity among those who started buying online during the lockdown: it is 28% of women and 28% of men. As for the experience related to the purchase of wine online, disadvantages have a lower rating than advantages: on average, the online purchasing experience is judged as positive. Moreover, it can be noticed the highest average rating (4) is given to “I discover new wineries”, followed by “I have a wider range of choices” (3,9). The rating for “I find better deals” (3.4) is lower. This data is interesting and indicates the maturity of the ones who buy wine online. Those who buy online do it in order to have a wider choice of products compared to physical stores and in order to discover new wineries, that is the purchase is more driven by a quality orientation rather than by convenience.
Ultimately, given the success of the online shopping experience, we wanted to investigate why 21.4% of those who tried online shopping during the lockdown returned to traditional channels once the lockdown was over. This group was then isolated and the scores they assigned to the advantages and disadvantages were observed. The result showed a systematically lower rating with reference to the advantages. Thus, it can be assumed that the reason this group of individuals returned to offline purchasing after the lockdown is a general lower consideration of the advantages, which were not deemed sufficient to continue, rather than true negative experiences.

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