What You Need to Know About Wine in 2021

Find out what role wine sales might play in your operation post lockdown and how consumer’s expectations have changed.

It may seem counterintuitive to focus your attention on sales you can’t currently make, but if the pandemic has taught us anything it’s that preparedness and adaptability are key qualities any business needs to survive. The industry as a whole was a shining example of how to be adaptable throughout the everchanging landscape of 2020. Huge amounts of time, effort, and money have been invested in hygiene, cleanliness, and social distancing requirements. So, if you’ve nailed down an approach to these aspects of your business, how can you make the most of the time you have now to prepare your business for the challenges of reopening in the future?

Consumer habits are evolving and changing through the impact of lockdowns and you must address how you will be prepared to meet the expectations of your customers and adapt your selling approach. So, what does this all mean for wine? What role will wine sales play in your operation post lockdown? How have customers’ expectations changed?

Wine report 2021

Going Digital

According to the CGA January Wine Report, nearly three-quarters of wine consumers use menus when choosing a drink. Over the course of the pandemic restrictions on bar ordering and distance guidelines for wait staff mean that digital menus have become the norm, so much so that almost 1 in 5 GB consumers prefer this menu choice, rising to 1 in 3 for consumers aged 18-34. This side effect of the pandemic is likely to stick, with especially younger consumers preferring digital options, so now is the time to consider what impact this will have on your teams.

Consider that if guests are more likely to have read the digital menu in advance, they may already have a preference in mind based on price or style. For your teams to be able to sell wine with confidence, they will need to be aware of this shift in customer behaviour.

The lack of interaction opportunities with bar staff and displays due to social distancing and table service requirements may mean that there is more emphasis on wait staff making recommendations, upselling and engaging customers in conversation about their wine choice than they used to. Your teams will need to be knowledgeable about the products on offer if they are to do this as well as successfully implement upselling techniques. 

Stripping Back

Next, you might think about stripping back your current wine menu. According to the Wine Report, the optimum number of wines listed on a wine menu is 15. This is obviously dependent on your clientele and type of establishment, but broadly speaking, there may be an opportunity for many to reduce the number of wines on their menu. In this case, you also have the advantage in reducing the amount of stock that you need to buy and store as well as simplify the experience for your guests. Many consumers will choose something familiar or prefer a less overwhelming experience when choosing wine, so to discourage your guests choosing simply the first listed or cheapest wine, a smaller list may mean you encourage more considered choices. This also gives your teams an advantage in that they don’t have to remember a long list of wines can focus on learning important details about a few key wines.

Know Your Stuff

Now, look at what you want to stock and how it meets your guests’ needs. When you reopen money may be tighter for many people, but they will still be looking for a treat, so make sure you have a reasonably affordable option on the menu. CGA reported an upward trend in wines from smaller wine-producing regions, and in the aftermath of the pandemic and an economic shift in ‘supporting local’, including wines produced in the UK is a good shout for impressing customers.

Supporting emerging trends can also provide an opportunity for upselling through recommendations, and this is where product knowledge plays a huge role. Your teams don’t necessarily need to know detailed tasting notes of wines but should be able to share some key details such as the country of origin or what wine pairs nicely with food on your menu. This kind of information can be key in promoting wines on your menus and creating upselling opportunities, particularly with younger wine drinkers who are more interested in experimenting and discovering new drinks and are more engaged with the on-trade – with half visiting weekly. 

Although there are potential sales opportunities in emerging trends and engaging younger consumers, those in older age categories have different priorities, favouring traditional countries of origin and value for money. So, your teams should be able to identify what the customer is looking for in a wine and then tailor the recommendation accordingly. The more knowledgeable they are, the better a server will be at this.

By ensuring your team’s knowledge meets the customer’s needs will result in more successful sales, helping you maximise the sales opportunity in wine when you reopen.

Analysing and anticipating consumer trends should be a big part of your reopening planning this time around. Find out more about how we can help you with wine product knowledge, table service and delivering sales by getting in touch today.

You can find the ‘Emerging World & Global Origins’ wine insight report from CGA here.

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