It is no surprise that 2020 was truly a year the wine industry endured monumental changes. As wine lovers, we know that our overall wine buying frequency never truly diminished, although our preferences for certain brands or styles may have altered or even “premium-ized.” And where we bought our vino, of course, sadly moved from our favorite bars and restaurants to brick and mortar retail shops, and, more importantly, the online marketplace or “e-premise.” According to Drizly, ten years-worth of growth in wine e-commerce occurred in the first three months of 2020 due pandemic shelter-in-place restrictions. That is a lot of change for our industry to handle, and while that was by no means the only change, it is probably the most dramatic.
What are some other 2020 findings of the wine industry?
We are still analyzing 2020 observations as experts continue to digest results from varied sources, surveys, and industry watchers. But while we all thought wine sales were exploding, the reality is, sales grew either 1% or were flat, according to the 2021 Silicon Valley Bank State of the Wine Industry report. While that seems unbelievable to those of us enjoying wine more regularly, it all reflects the reality of wine sales channel-shifting. To that point, small wine producers experienced a 153 percent growth in online sales last year with an average order 300 percent larger than the average order in the tasting room, but restaurant sales decreased about 40%. Again, just more proof that the new virtual vino, eno-commerce world became a pandemic side-effect.
What are the continued 2021 challenges?
We continue to study the data, but there is general consensus that in-person dining will return by the late summer and fall. Restaurants, however, will not replenish the varied wine selections they once had for years to come, and this isn’t great news for the wine industry. In addition, the underlying, pre-COVID circumstances remain: the wine consumer community is diversifying rapidly, millennials are not enjoying wine as much as previous generations, data-based responses to anti-alcohol messaging is severely lacking, and the wine industry remains fragmented in its ability to react to and support consumer industry trends.
What are the 2021 opportunities?
While wineries and suppliers will continue to find opportunities to grow in the e-premise, they will only be able to do so if then invest in digital strategies and e-commerce. Wineries and suppliers that already had some sort of e-commerce program going into the pandemic, and those that could quickly adapt to direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales weathered the pandemic. But these strategies need to become more dedicated, sophisticated, and data-driven. They will need to engage with current consumers and connect with potential markets in their communities and their homes, in their voice, and in organic and authentic ways. Community commerce will be critical to recovery and growth of the wine industry.
Amigas, we will continue to be the voice of change and community for our wine industry. As the data is still being analyzed, we will continue to report industry findings, but we already know the value and importance of our fellow Latinas in this changing wine world.