Neil Anderson
The views expressed in db Reader do not represent the views of the drinks business.

How can wine capitalise on Brits’ hunger for snacking?

New research is showing that the tradition of the weekday “everyday” dinner is gradually becoming a thing of the past. As modern life becomes increasingly chaotic and the office infiltrates the home via smart devices and our ‘always on’ mentality, our need for food that is quicker to prepare, healthier and more portable has created a nation of “snackers”.

Small plates and snacking are becoming increasingly popular in London, and the UK

In fact in the last four years there are now 100,000 fewer evening meal occasions compared to an increase of 172 million evening snack occasions. Wine has traditionally been seen as a drink to have with a meal, with 84% of wine occasions involving food versus 75% for total alcohol. This is a proper sit down meal though rather than a snack on your lap in front of the latest Netflix hit. So how can we, in the drinks industry, take advantage of this shift in behaviour?

Weekday snacking

Our WinePRO research tool, that we use to track the relationship UK consumers have with wine across age groups and occasions, suggests that the role of alcohol as a whole is changing in direct correlation to the change in eating habits. The most obvious change is the shift to more frequent snacking, particularly during the week. Our research, in conjunction with Kantar World Panel*, has shown that there are 100,000 less evening meal occasions than four years ago and that there are 172 million more evening snack occasions.

Time poor convenience seekers

There are several factors driving this. Consumers, particularly the younger age group, of 25- 35 years, are more concerned with their health, so could be eating fewer large main meals. Our time-poor society seeks quick, easy nutrition often in the form of convenience foods. In general, we are also eating and drinking alone more often, which means that we are less likely to cook traditional meals from scratch.

A refreshing change

The increase in snacking means that people are more likely to seek refreshment from alcoholic drinks. This can be seen in the exponential rise in sparkling alcoholic drinks as well as fusion-based products.

Eating alone

With the increase in eating alone during the week, particularly amongst younger people, white wine is losing out to water or adult soft drinks. When alcohol is drunk it tends to be lager or cider. However the older age group (45+) is continuing to drink more wine, particularly driven by routine and need to relax after a long day. The research shows that 81% of total wine spend is from 45+ year olds.

What next for wine?

Clearly this increase in snack occasions provides a real opportunity for wine to be more than just a complement to a traditional meal; it can provide refreshment, convenience and lighter alcohol alternatives to go with snacks. The wine industry needs to adopt some of the behaviours we see in the wider category, making better use of innovation in marketing, format and formulation. Social media, smaller and on-the-go formats, such as single serve or pouch, interesting fusions and carbonation could all increase frequency of weekday use. By making wine more accessible, more refreshing and more convenient we can grab the opportunities the change in weekday eating habits provide.

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