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Allegrini 2018
ITALIAN MARKET

Wine and COVID: after the lockdown, the growth of large-scale distribution and e-commerce continues

Nomisma Wine Monitor and Nielsen’s surveys: in the first 6 months of 2020, values at +9% in large-scale distribution, and +102% online

Wine consumption in Italy is suffering the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic with the closure of Horeca. In the first half of the year, the balance sheet is that of a consistent “shift” towards purchases in large-scale distribution, which grew by 9% over the same period in 2019, and online, which grew by 102%. Obviously, in the light of the different (and distant) volumes handled by these two channels in the national wine consumption scene, these are growths whose relative “weight” must be rightly contextualized: suffice it to say that, despite this doubling, the value ratio in wine sales between e-commerce and large-scale distribution is still 1 to 16.
Beyond these differences, there is no doubt about the development of the online channel in wine sales, a dynamic that has affected FMCG operators more than “pure players”. According to an estimate by Nomisma Wine Monitor - Nielsen, in the first half of 2020 the online wine sales of FMCG retailers increased by 147% compared to a growth of specialist retailers that “stopped” at +95%, although the latter were responsible for 83% of wine e-commerce sales in Italy (again in values).
“The acceleration implied by the pandemic in the development of online wine sales is undeniable. Even in the coming months, there will be a consolidation of this channel, forcing producers to pay more attention to new sales methods. It is in light of this evolution of the market - says Denis Pantini, head of Nomisma Wine Monitor - that we have started the collaboration with Nielsen, in order to jointly create new tools for monitoring and analysis of consumption trends in support of the Italian wine supply chain”. As far as Free Service Distribution (including discount stores) is concerned, it is interesting to note that wine sales have grown even after the lockdown. In particular, again according to Nielsen data, sales in the eight weeks between 9 March and 3 May 2020 increased by 6.7% in terms of value and 9.7% in terms of volume, showing a drop in the average price of almost 3%. In the following eight weeks (until 28 June, and thus in the post-lockdown period), sales grew by 16.2% in terms of value and 12.9% in terms of volume, while average prices rose by 3%. This trend has manifested itself differently for the different categories. In particular, focusing on the eight weeks of the lockdown, the preference of Italians was mainly towards still and sparkling wines (+12.5% in values compared to the same period in 2019) and, within this type, towards reds (+14.9%). On the contrary, purchases of sparkling wines (including Champagne) were reduced - again in terms of values - by 19%, since Easter was celebrated within the small circle of people living in the same household. In the following eight weeks, the sales trend was positive for both categories, but with sparkling wines in a big “dusting”: while sales of still and sparkling wines grew by another 13.9%, those of sparkling wines and Champagne achieved +27.5%, with Charmat Secchi (starting with Prosecco, ed) leading the recovery (+32.4%). “E-commerce is establishing itself as one of the most prospective channels for many (but not all) categories of FMCG products. Wine is undoubtedly one of them. Its online sales show an exponential growth trend that, with the Covid-19 pandemic, has consolidated even more. Measuring the fragmentation of sales between online Ggdo and pure online players requires new measurement techniques and metrics. Nielsen is happy and proud to start this collaboration with Nomisma to offer extensive monitoring of both sales and consumption habits, in an omnichannel logic,” says Stefano Cini, Consumer Intelligence & e-commerce Leader of Nielsen Connect Italia.

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