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Wine's Role in a Wellness Lifestyle

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Picnickers on lawn at Vista Collina in Napa Valley Picnickers on lawn at Vista Collina in Napa Valley

TASTE News Service, February 23, 2021 — In partnership with NielsenIQ, the Wine Market Council (https://winemarketcouncil.com/) just completed a study on the role of wine in a Wellness Lifestyle.

Dale Stratton Wine Mkt Council PicmonkeyDale Stratton

The primary goal of the research was to better understand how wine is perceived as compared to other beverage alcohol categories such as beer, spirits, and hard seltzers. Additional insights were gained on the interaction between the categories, the role of ‘dry months,’ and the importance of social circles and occasions. “As a natural, sustainable product, we believe wine can be part of a Wellness Lifestyle,” said Dale Stratton, Wine Market Council President.  “This research was conducted to help us, and the wine industry we serve, understand if consumers share that perception.”

Three categories of wellness were defined, based on what consumers considered important to a healthy lifestyle. The first and largest group is activity focused, rating exercise, stress management, and time with family as most important for wellness. The second are consumers whose primary focus is on diet and ingredients with an orientation to reducing sugar, calories, and carbs. The third and smallest group includes those who are ‘alcohol-concerned,’ and focus on reducing the amount of alcohol consumed or seek lower alcohol products. These last two groups also value exercise and social activities but differ significantly on the important factors in food and beverages consumed. 

“We’re tempted to ascribe consumer choices to the ‘trend du jour,’ be it reduced calories or cutting back alcohol. But in fact, the consumption trends we’re seeing now are a complicated mix of health perceptions, taste and social influences, magnified by the pandemic,” explained Christian Miller, Wine Market Council Director of Research. “Wellness factors that are important vary person to person and the products that are credible depend on the attribute being stressed. The good news for wine is that it isn’t particularly vulnerable on any one factor and so far, has kept its position as the alcoholic beverage most compatible with a wellness lifestyle in general. However, we are at the start of a very dynamic phase in this area, and consumers are going to be bombarded with a lot of new products and claims, so we need to keep an eye on this topic.”

Christian Miller Wine Mkt Council PicmonkeyChristian Miller

Roughly half of all beverage alcohol consumers do not associate alcoholic beverages with features of a wellness lifestyle. However, of those who do, two thirds perceive wine as an overall healthier choice compared to hard seltzer, spirits and beer. Hard seltzer does better with diet/ingredient-focused consumers and is seen as hitting the mark for lower calories, carbs and sugar. Those whose wellness concerns were focused on diet and ingredients were less likely to be cutting back on hard seltzer, while those whose concerns were alcohol-focused were more likely to be cutting back on spirits and less likely hard seltzer.Core wine consumers ranked reducing calories and artificial ingredients, and eating more plant-based foods, as higher priorities than less frequent wine consumers, who were in turn higher than non-wine drinkers.

"NielsenIQ is pleased to partner with The Wine Market Council on this research, as it is relevant given the overarching consumer trends, and timely given the ever-changing dynamics in the world today,” said Peggy Gsell, Client Business Partner, NielsenIQ. “Core consumer trends that were growing before the pandemic continued to grow, and in many cases accelerated, throughout 2020. Health and wellness is the number one concern among U.S. consumers and is a key trend that translates into unique product offerings and marketing communication. For beverages specifically, we have seen several better-for-you products enter the marketplace, a resurgence of low alcohol and non-alcohol offerings, and a heightened transparency in ingredient claims."

The recent study addresses additional trends such as alcoholic beverage consumption (decreasing overall) and the reasons for it, the leading one being the decline in social situations where consumers might drink, no doubt correlating with the pandemic. A general dissatisfaction with drinking was the second reason for decline in consumption, while third were factors related to dietary and eating habits. Also of note: Most consumers drink and purchase alcoholic beverages across multiple categories, rather than focusing the majority of their consumption on a single category such as beer or wine. 

Another finding of the research was the association between hard seltzer’s growth and reducing wine consumption, which was weak. While hard seltzer picked up share from those consumers reducing wine consumption, overall, more wine drinkers reported increasing wine and hard seltzer than those who said they were drinking less wine and more hard seltzer. The big loser in this equation appears to be beer, ceding purchases to both wine and hard seltzers.

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