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July 14, 2021

What People Want from Fine Wine w/ Pauline Vicard, ARENI Global

What People Want from Fine Wine w/ Pauline Vicard, ARENI Global

Getting at the heart of what consumers want is essential for any business, but a vastly understudied area in the world of fine wine. Pauline Vicard, Executive Director of ARENI Global, follows up her interview on Episode 28 and shares with us their lates


Getting at the heart of what consumers want is essential for any business, but a vastly understudied area in the world of fine wine.  Pauline Vicard, Executive Director of ARENI Global, follows up her interview on Episode 28 and shares with us their latest research on the fine wine consumer - “The Future of Fine Wine Consumers 2021.”  We explore the role of fine wine merchants, how and why consumers buy fine wine, and the key attributes of fine wine brands.  The work covers the US, UK, China, and Hong Kong, and we discover the differences between consumers in each location.  We even touch on diversity and inclusion in the fine wine world.  An impactful, cornerstone interview to better understand the mindset of the fine wine consumer, a must listen! 

Detailed Show Notes:

  • Pauline was the guest of Episode 28, where she shared findings from the 2019 research on the Fine Wine Consumer
  • ARENI Global background
    • ARENI is a global research and action institute dedicated to the future of Fine Wine. Creating conversation platforms for the Fine Wine ecosystem, ARENI brings together critical thinkers, from iconic Fine Wine producers to leading academics and business leaders, resulting in a well-researched, global and multi-disciplinary approach to a world undergoing change.
    • ARENI studies six main forces of change and regularly publishes on:
      • The Fine Wine Consumer: A Customer-Centric Approach
      • Changing Societies: Fine Wine Evolving Social framework
      • The Digital Economy and Transformative technology
      • Access to market: Towards new commercial routes
      • Sustainability 2.0: Acting now, thinking long term
      • Money: An Essential Force of Conflict
    • Wants to break traditional silos to share information and collaborate, including with other industries
    • Organizes think tank platforms and conducts research studies
    • ARENI publishes a bi-monthly, free newsletter. To keep in touch with their research, publications, and events, sign up.
  • Fine Wine Consumer Research
    • 2019 - was more qualitative research
    • 2020 - “The Future of Fine Wine Consumers 2021”
      •  more quantitative research
      • Studied fine wine consumers in the US, UK, China, and Hong Kong
  • Definition of Fine Wine
    • Complex, balanced, potential to age
    • Produces emotions, reflects the winemaker’s intentions
    • Environmentally, socially, and financially sustainable (new part of the definition)
    • Price is not in the definition but used price brackets from La Place de Bordeaux for quantitative studies (€30+, €150+, €450+)
  • Consumers perceptions of fine wine
    • Perceive it more as brands/chateaux
    • The average fine wine consumer can name 2.5 wineries, most common ones - Lafite, Latour, and Petrus
    • Does not associate fine wine as much with country, grape variety, or type of wine
    • US consumers >35 know more brands than those <35
  • Fine wine merchants
    • Consumers very loyal to merchants, but not exclusive, tend to source from several
    • Have high expectations of merchants, want them to bring a diversity of wines and recommend new things
    • Key attributes: high customer service, pristine condition of wines, guarantee against fraud, want access to allocations and exclusive events, and easy delivery
    • Want access to the merchant through diverse communication channels but still have the human/personal touch
  • How consumers choose a fine wine
    • #1 - vintage (UK, China, Hong Kong)
    • Burgundy buyers use both vintage and producer
    • Scores are still important, but most people don’t follow specific critics or guide books, but they still use the scores as validation of the quality of the wine
    • Price is not a key driver
    • #3 factor - grape variety
    • The reputation of the brand and winery important
    • Least important factor - celebrity or influencer recommendations
  • Storytelling
    • Not as important as was expected, the wine’s story is not relevant for every fine wine consumer
    • Some want wines because of their status or what tastes the best
  • Why consumers buy fine wine
    • Intimate consumption was bigger than expected - wine as a treat for self and/or partner (US, UK)
    • Special occasions, formal social events (Hong Kong, China)
    • Gifting (China)
    • Formal wine tastings (UK)
    • Business occasions (China)
    • Food and wine pairing (particularly in China)
  • Fine Wine Consumer demographics
    • UK/US - 70% men, 30% women
    • China/Hong Kong - 50% men, 50% women
    • Women want to buy luxury
    • Millennial women are an important market
    • More young consumers (<35)
  • Fine wine investors
    • Non-collectors that invest mostly go through a 3rd party
    • Look at it as another financial asset, rarely take ownership of wine
  • Top attributes for fine wine brands
    • #1 - the capacity to age as wine evolves with time
    • #2 - high ratings from wine critics (the UK the lowest for this)
    • The reputation of a region of origin and producer
    • UK/US - complexity of taste
    • China/Hong Kong - scarcity important
    • Don’t really think of sustainability - assume wine is sustainable
    • Trade does think of sustainability - they are gatekeepers for consumers
  • Diversity and inclusion
    • “Fine wine is whiteness” was discovered in research - references to colonial terms for many countries (e.g., India, US)
    • The industry has little to lose by having more diversity
    • Diversity issues and systemic difficulties are different for different countries
    • China - diversity more focused on gender vs. race
  • To access the full report, become a member of ARENI.
  • For more information: pauline@areni.global
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