How will wine win this Christmas? 

The countdown to Christmas is on; the trade is filing last orders, while consumers turn their thoughts to the festive food and drink shop. As retailers and the on-premise gear up and stock up, Jo Taylorson, Head of Marketing and Product Management at Irlam-based Kingsland Drinks’  comments on some of the key themes set to make or break the performance of wine this holiday season. 

White gaining ground at Christmas and growth across the board 

“Red wine is the main volume driver throughout the Christmas period as shoppers look for wines to match the turkey dinner, dessert and obligatory cheeseboard, or seek out a winter warmer for the colder evenings. However, latest Kantar data shows that both segments are gaining momentum overall, with growth in value and volume terms across both red and white wine in the latest 12 months. 

“We expect to see this carry on throughout Christmas as while red wine is inextricably linked to the festive period, the clear uplift in sales seen across white wine at this time shows a potential temporary fatigue with red that means we should all be watching our range – especially at this late stage and into January when outlets will be seeing the impact of the festive period on sales.  

“Fresher whites tend perform particularly well in the winter months, like the Eight Thousand Lakes Washington State Sauvignon (£9.99, Majestic) or the Prince Alexandre Crémant de Loire Brut NV, potentially owing to a more discerning shopper looking for premium pairings to seafood starters, white meats and buffet foods or a break from heavier reds. In any case, it’s time to fine tune your range before the season is in full swing. 

“Reinforcing the point; there are more white wines than red wines in the top ten best-selling list right now, in both volume and fastest-growing terms, indicating that both segments are buoyant, and we can no longer assume that red will have the lion’s share of sales this Christmas.  

“Taking a full year view, what we’re seeing is more balance across both red and white wine overall with latest Kantar figures showing there’s just two per cent difference in value with red wine still in the lead. While red is growing slightly faster than white in value terms (three and four per cent respectively), there’s parity in volume and so over Christmas, it’ll be key to listen to the data and ensure both segments are represented in line with this.”  

Shoppers trading up is still key 

“Outside of the festive season, inflation and price hikes across the board are fuelling the rise of average spend per litre. Combined with the typical spike in average price at Christmas, we can expect a performance this year that mirrors wider category trend of value growth superseding volume sales.” 

More shoppers buy into wine for the festive season 

“The good news for wine is that despite an overall decline at a category level, Christmas is remains a time when more shoppers buy in to the category. 

“Our insights already suggest that both value and volume grew around 15 per cent throughout October and November this year, with a further 9 per cent growth anticipated this month, which we’re attributing to the festive season. While not conclusive at this stage, the message is clear; the opportunities exist amongst established wine drinkers who are confident in their choices and are willing to pay more, and those less seasoned who are looking to be directed but have money to spend.” 

Promotions remain a key volume growth driver – but there are bigger uplifts throughout the year 

“Up to 50 per cent of wine volumes sold during the Christmas period is on offer or promotion – they are a key volume driver. Shoppers buy into temporary price reductions, along with multi-buy deals as they stock up for the multitude of occasions the season offers.  

“The Christmas and New Year period is unsurprisingly the key season for alcohol sales – partly because of the duration of the festive season, but other, shorter holidays and events such as Hallowe’en, Father’s Day and Easter certainly should not be discounted.  

Big bets for Christmas 2019  

“Prosecco is in decline after years of relentless growth and “other” sparklers are on the up; we expect this trend to be firmly cemented throughout Christmas2019.  

  “The Vuestro Spanish Sparkler, a Kingsland Drinks brand which is sold by Co-op, is a proof point of the shift. It’s a pleasant, tasty and versatile sparkler which has seen excellent growth in 2019. In line with the category, it’s one to watch this year as we predict a real buoyancy for the brand and similar expressions as consumers become more adventurous and try new varieties.  

“We’ve also got our eye on Crémant, specifically the likes of the Prince Alexandre Crémant de Loire Brut NV in Waitrose. A fine, regionally controlled sparkling wine which is fermented in the bottle, much like Champagne. We expect Christmas 2019 and the year ahead to be key in establishing Crémant as the “insider’s choice” owing to its high quality and accessible price point.”