India Wine Insider 2017, the first-ever survey of the urban Indian wine consumers shows some interesting trends in the market. The recently released report which took into account around 900 samples from five top cities of India highlights a significant consumer interest in wine as a category and need for extensive promotion of the wine by the glass programme.
Though the Indian wine industry is around 30 years old, the real growth in consumption has been recorded only in last few years. Rapid urbanization, rising disposable incomes, accessibility of domestic as well as imported wines have been instrumental in driving this segment. According to the report, only 2-3 million consumers consume total 24 million litres of wine in the country.
The report released by Sonal Holland, India’s first and only Master of Wine and Founder of the Sonal Holland Wine Academy identifies the top 10 trends in wine among Indian consumer. The data collected through Drshti Strategic Research Services Pvt. Ltd. highlights the following consumer behaviour.
- Consumers’ understanding of wine is limited; however, awareness and consumption are positively related. Other than colour, there is very little involvement with other wine styles; names of regions and grape varieties remain under-developed cues. This points to the nascence of the wine market in India, and the scope for educating and involving the consumer.
- Price remains the most important choice cue for consumers. Other important choice cues used by consumers when choosing wine are the familiarity of brand name, country of origin and colour of the wine.
- Wine is increasingly a ‘mainstream drink’ and is being consumed across a wide range of occasions, both at home and at restaurants/bars. Consumers show a strong preference for drinking wine at home with family members, suggesting that wine is gaining cultural acceptance withinIndian households. In restaurants, wine is being mostly consumed during large gatherings, casual or fine-dining meals.
- More than 50% of consumers order wines exclusively by the glass, alluding to the price-sensitivity of Indian consumers as well as the need to drink in moderation. This finding highlights the need for better-developed ‘wine-by- the-glass’ program, fair pricing strategies with a balanced representation of both domestic and international wines on wine lists.
- Despite price-sensitivity, consumers spend more on wines to impress. More expensive wines are being poured at business meetings, social parties and for gifting to set a favourable impression, making wine important in the social context.
- Wine is uniquely positioned in the consumer’s mind as a healthy, sophisticated and a less intoxicating (therefore socially acceptable beverage). These qualities make wine unique, unlike any other beverage thereby giving it a distinctive marketable advantage over other alcoholic beverages.
- Consumers view international wines more favourably over domestic wines. Despite being expensive, imported wines are perceived superior to Indian wines in terms of quality, packaging and as gifting options. The only association where Indian wines are rated over international wines is that they offer ‘value for money.’
- Women represent an increasingly important market segment for the wine industry. Indian women view wine as a classy, empowering, healthy beverage and are experiencing fewer cultural inhibitions when drinking wine in the presence of their family members or the society at large.Women are purchasing wine as often as men across all occasions with a propensity to spend marginally more than men on a bottle of wine.
- There are significant variations in how wine is perceived and consumed across India. WhilstMumbai remains India’s largest wine consumption market, findings suggest that it is largely a domestic wine-driven market with the low frequency of wine purchases and relatively lower spending on wine, compared to other centres. Delhi shows an evolved culture with higher share consumption of international wines over domestic wines, coupled with a higher propensity for wine spends than Mumbai. Bangalore and Pune are vibrant wine markets that can no longer be ignored. Consumers in these two cities show an equal preference for both domestic and international wines across a range of styles, regions, and varieties; willingness to pay higher price points, pointing to a rapidly emerging wine culture. Goa, on the other hand, displays a preference for consuming wines largely at home with a high prevalence of inexpensive Indian wines in their drinking portfolio.
- Younger consumers (25-34-year-olds) represent a promising market segment for the wine industry. Contrary to popular trade belief that the younger segment does not know how to appreciate wine, the study reveals that 25-34-year-olds are purchasing wine as often as the older consumers. They show a strong preference for international wines over domestic wines and drink wines to appear classy, sophisticated and intelligent. Their positive attitude towards wine and aspiration to drink better quality wines positions them as tomorrow’s frequent, loyal wine drinkers.
The release of the report was followed by a panel discussion on ‘What the Consumer Thinks and Drinks’ among the leading wine professionals in the country. Joining Sonal on the panel were Kapil Grover – Founder & Chairman at Grover Zampa Vineyards; Vishal Kadakia – Founder & Director of Wine Park; and Jasjit Assi, – Hotel Manager at Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai. While the discussion raised some important subjects such as the need to increase wine education amongst hotel staff, keeping prices competitive for Indian wines, the need to change perceptions via education so that Indian wines are consumed by the premium wine drinkers, focusing on the women wine drinkers and changing the aura around wine to make it more fun and casual for the younger generation were some of the highlights. However, the most significant takeaway from the discussion was the need to encourage more hotel and establishments to serve wine by the glass.