Allegrini 2018

Turnover, online searches and buying habits: behind the wine e-commerce boom

The big names of online commerce, from Tannico to Callmewine, change hands and wine lovers around the world discover the beauty of buying with a click

Restaurants are closing, the shutters of bars are being lowered, and consumption is moving, of necessity, to the home. This is how we can sum up the year 2020, for long stretches and just about everywhere. With all its scope of change, not only in consumption habits, but also in purchasing habits, especially if we limit the analysis to wine. In the last 12 months, that is since the world began to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, with the first lockdowns in China, then in Italy and gradually throughout the West, the epicenter of purchases has shifted from the physical store to the virtual one. The online channel has experienced a long period of growth, well summarized by the turnover of Tannico (expected to grow by 50%, to over 30 million euros, ed.), which in recent months has passed under the control of Gruppo Campari. Another player in online wine sales such as Callmewine, on the wings of a 95% growth in 2020, to 12.5 million euros, also changed hands: Italmobiliare, an investment holding company listed on the Stock Exchange (with a capitalization of 1.2 billion euros), secured 60% of the e-commerce site for 13 million euros.
At the same time, it’s impossible to keep track of the many companies that, after years of hesitation, have finally decided to launch their own virtual store. A rightful choice, because, although things may return to normal, like every crisis, this one too will leave something in its wake, a change in habits with which we will presumably have to reckon for a long time. As told by a survey by Wine Intelligence, in fact, the percentage of wine lovers who consider the idea of buying wine online in the future is very high. Whether it’s on the website of a supermarket, an online retailer, a wine club, the corporate website of a winery or a delivery app, in the US 58% of wine drinkers are willing to buy wine on the web. A trend shared by wine lovers from all over the world, with percentages, and therefore with a predisposition to online, often higher. In fact, they range from 44% of Canadian consumers to 67% of Mexicans, from 59% of Brazilian wine lovers to 69% of those in Great Britain, from 56% of Germans who will buy a bottle online, to 75% of Chinese, real trendsetters in this sense, as well as 55% of consumers in Hong Kong, 69% of those in Singapore and 61% of Australians. And in Italy? Here in Italy, the thermometer that measures the predisposition to purchase are the numbers of online searches in 2020, collected and analyzed by Idealo, a leading international portal in Europe in price comparison: the online interest in alcoholic beverages has more than doubled in the past year (+110,2%), and to grow more are young people in the age group between 18 and 24 years (+209,2%). There was a real boom of interest online by Italians towards wines (+446.0%), followed by Cognac and Brandy (+247.6%) and vodka (+242.7%). Italians and Austrians mainly looked for sparkling wines, Prosecco and Champagne, whereas in the other countries searches were mainly about Whisky. Due to the pandemic and to the long months of lockdown and closure of stores, in 2020 there were no tastings and tours to wineries and wine shops in search of fine labels and particular liquors, but buying alcoholic beverages online, today, has become easier and more interesting than ever because of the vast choice of digital wine shops, from huge platforms to small and medium e-commerce with more personalized selections, reads Idealo’s report.
Going back to the general data about researches related to the world of alcoholic beverages, and therefore not only to wine, after the one of young people, the most interested age group is the one of adults between 35 and 44 years old (+91.2%) and between 25 and 34 years old (+88.8%). Also of note is the growth of interest in the over-65 age group, +27%, lower than that of other age groups but three times higher than the growth of interest in e-commerce in general, which in 2020 increased by +9% among adults over 65. Online alcohol searches are primarily conducted on Sunday nights and from mobile (+125.1% over 2019). On a territorial level, the three regions where online interest in alcohol has grown the most are Molise (over +200%), Friuli Venezia Giulia (+196.2%) and Basilicata (+191.1%); those that have grown the least are, on the other hand, Umbria (+76.1%), Liguria (+41%) and, lastly, Valle d’Aosta (+39.6%).
While online interest in alcohol in 2020 more than doubled in Italy (+110.2% compared to 2019), the British and Spanish saw an almost threefold increase in interest, with growth of +194.8% in the UK and +171.1% in the Iberian Peninsula. In contrast, growth in online interest in alcohol in 2020 was less pronounced for Germans (+47.7%), Austrians (+33.4%) and the French (+29.6%). The months that registered the greatest interest online were August and December. In the first case, users’ attention focused on gin and vodka. At the end of the year, instead, purchase intentions were mainly for sparkling wine, Prosecco and Champagne, Cognac and Brandy, liqueurs, Rum, spirits and brandies, wines and Whisky. In addition, comparing monthly prices online provides great opportunities for savings over the course of a year. If you use the price fluctuation to your advantage and buy in the cheapest month, you can save an average of 10.9%, but in some cases, the average maximum savings can even exceed -20%.

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