Retailers need ‘more coherent’ fizz offer

A slide in supermarket own label sales is holding back Champagne’s UK performance but provides a major driving force for Prosecco, according to Champagne Lanson’s third Annual Category Report.

Champagne-491x640Drawing on sales data from Nielsen and CGA Strategy, as well as consumer data gathered by Futuresight, the report indicated a 3% volume slide for Champagne in the UK off-trade, in contrast to 3.1% volume growth in the on-trade sector.

While noting that “branded Champagnes have seen significant growth”, the report highlighted a -16% value decline for own label and tertiary products. By contrast, it pointed to a 90% increase for Prosecco own label during the last year, which underpinned the category’s 54.6% value uplift.

According to the report, Prosecco’s growth is coming primarily at the expense of still white wines and even spirits, although it also goes some way towards explaining the slide in supermarket own label and tertiary label Champagne.

Despite the growing popularity of Prosecco, whose global volume sales outstripped Champagne for the first time last year, the research demonstrated that Champagne remains the preferred choice for gifts and more formal celebrations such as weddings. However, at larger events sparkling wine’s lower price point has seen it edge ahead.

Based on these findings, the report offered a number of recommendations, including the “need to build ‘discernment’ into the Champagne category highlighting its superior taste, hand made craftsmanship and premium quality.”

This echoes the argument made earlier this year by Andrew Hawes, managing director of Bollinger’s UK agent Mentzendorff, who called on the Champagne category to shout more loudly about the factors which distinguish it from other sparkling wines.

Lanson’s report also advised retailers to “develop their own label Champagnes into brands with their own stories to engage consumers”, as well as “adopt more rigorous category management approach to sparkling to ensure a more coherent pricing ladder with related categories.”

Paul Beavis, managing director of Lanson International, highlighted a number of lessons from the report, commenting: “We see the growth of Prosecco as a positive as it moves more consumers into ‘bubbles’. What we can learn from it is that telling Lanson’s taste and quality story is more important than ever.

“The way we live today presents many occasions to consume Champagne, from the very big to the everyday. By further understanding customer behaviour and implementing our recommended strategies for profitable growth, we believe retailers will see significant benefit,” he added.

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