“Genuine consumer demand” for low alcohol wines

There is apparently a growing market for low alcohol wine as part of a wider desire to live more healthily.

Speaking at the Alcohol in Moderation conference, Neil Mariola of Accolade Wines was talking about the development of Banrock Station and Stowells Light.

He quoted 2010 research from Mintel which showed that, among those questioned, health concerns were up 5% on 2009, while in 2007 some 62% of consumers were said to be looking for healthier products a figure that had risen to nearly 75% in 2010.

“It’s part of a more holistic approach to food and drink and dieting,” said Mariola.

Furthermore, he added, “’Light’ is not new to consumers, they’re used to it from butters and margarines, cheese, crisps, even ice cream.”

However, there are still barriers to the development of the category. These include: perceived low product quality, packaging doesn’t drive the message, no trusted wine brands are involved and there is a lack of availability.

In terms of packaging, Mariola noted that use of the words “light” and “calories” were particularly effective.

Despite these barriers, Mariola said that the biggest potential for growth came from regular wine drinkers who might be looking to cut down on their alcohol intake during the week and as they tend to be women who come from a higher wage bracket and are more conscious of diet and calories.

As he continued, armed with this “insight”, Accolade launched its two light wines in August last year.

So far, he said, the responses have been positive, with various “sip tests” appearing to show a marked preference among consumers for Banrock Station Light when tasted against a full strength Australian wine and 5.5% competitor.

From small bases in two supermarkets, sales have risen by 300% and 900% – largely as a result of tastings.

In conclusion, Mariola pointed to how the category can be developed, notably through continued campaigns designed to raise consumer awareness, drive credibility of low alcohol drinks and improve in-store merchandising.

However, he also said that the way was also open for new formats, “to broaden appeal for target consumers”, here Mariola suggested that bag in box was a “natural” format for the light wine category.

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