Wine in a can is a robust trend and not a short-term fad

With the traditional wine market in the US growing at an increasingly slow pace, successful wineries 10 years from now will be those that have adapted to a different consumer with different values.  Wine in a can is no new thing; it was first seen in World War 1 when the French army had their wine rations delivered this way.

WICresearch.com has done an in-depth study of the drivers that are affecting the boom in the wine-in-can market and it is predicted that the trend will continue to grow as it has done exponentially in its infancy.  The most important factors to consumers when it comes to wine-in-can are taste, quality and value, followed by convenience, portability and fun.  From 2017-2108 the wine-in-can market grew by 43%.  It is a market that cannot be ignored as the industry needs new growth places.

There are 6 main drivers that are promoting the expansion of wine-in-can, as follows:

Convenience

This is the most obvious benefit and relates to the carrying, opening and finishing of the product.  One is able take a can where it is illegal or inconvenient to bring a bottle or any glass.  The single-serve size also allows for zero waste of the contents, and it removes the need for traditional wine paraphernalia: foil cutters, corks screws. Under the convenience banner, the wine vending machine is also a trend that is starting to gain traction, certainly opening new markets in terms of novelty and availability.

Occasion expansion

This is based on both location and event. Location involves places where taking a bottle of wine is not suitable nor practical: boats, beach, swimming pools.  Event expansion is where offering a single-serve beverage is desirable e.g.BBQ, picnic.

It is interesting that wine-in-can drivers such as these are not cannibalizing the existing market with its meagre growth of 1-4% but it is rather creating an extension of markets or even new markets and thus creating strong double-digit growth.

Sustainability and cost savings

Aluminum is 100% recyclable and so the environmental footprint is greatly reduced, and the product attracts an eco-friendly consumer who values sustainability.  Research has shown that 51% of Millennials check the packaging before purchase for sustainability claims.

 Facts:

  • Sustainable products grew 4x the rate of non-sustainable products (Nielsen)
  •  Consumers are willing to pay 15% more for sustainable packaging (McKinsey)
  • 66% of consumers will pay more for sustainable brands (Nielsen)

Packaging in aluminum cans also produces a saving of 15-20% with some manufacturers suggesting 40% due to efficiency of packing and transport, lack of breakage, and lighter weight.  Therefore, carbon emissions for transportation are also lower. Also, savings occur in establishments serving wine by the glass, as there is total accuracy over the serving size with no shrinkage.

Portion control and variety

Apart from the benefit of not having to open a whole bottle when you would like to enjoy a glass, there is also no issue of dealing with unfinished wine.  The wine-in-can movement is very popular with restaurants that have less waste and leftover wine, or the problem of customers wanting to cork their bottle to take it home which is illegal in many parts of the world.

Due to the small serving, wine drinkers can enjoy different varieties of wine with different courses, instead of a full bottle of the same wine.

Visual image and branding

An aluminum can has a 360-degree label rather than just a front and a back.  It gives the product a cooler, more photographable, Instagrammable look.

“With 64% of consumers trying a new [wine] product simply because the package catches their eye, packaging design is one of the most underappreciated marketing levers” (Freeman, 2016).

Designers can go so far as to make the packaging glow in the dark.

Quality

“You actually have a really stable environment in a can…There’s no UV penetration or oxygen exchange like there would be through a cork and glass bottle” (Drinks News, 2018).

For still and sparkling wine, the integrity of the product can easily be preserved.  The dark, oxygen-free environment for still wine is ideal while for sparkling, the effervescence is contained in a small space.

There is ongoing research for different types of cans, linings and filling systems to ensure further integrity of the product as well as preserving its future life which is, as yet, unproven.

It is interesting to note that the wine-in-can purchase is not affected by gender, education nor generational group.  There is also no difference in self-reported wine knowledge i.e. consumers with a high level of wine knowledge are just as likely to buy wine in cans.

In a 2019 a blind taste test of wine-in-can versus wine-in-bottle was conducted. The identical wine from the same winery in both packaging formats was poured.  There were 4 different varietals and the experiment was done in 2 different locations.  51.1% said they either preferred the wine-in-can or that they could tell no difference between the two.

Wine-in-can is a growing market and innovation and interesting marketing tools are emerging every day.  It will be a very interesting space to watch over the next decade.

WICresearch.com

Jenny Ratcliffe-Wright
Cape Wine Master

 

Wine in a Can.  I’m a Fan!

What’s wrong with selling wine in a can?  It was not too long ago when traditionalists thought screw caps on wine bottles were a total outrage to an industry cloaked in tradition. And look at us now; twisting that screw cap with glee and patting ourselves on the back that the screw cap invention protected the cork trees.

Wine in a can is no gimmick. It began in about 2004 with Francis Ford Coppola Winery producing “Sofia”, a blanc de blanc sparkling wine in a can.  It has been growing steadily since then and canned wine was a $50 million business in the US last year. It seems to be falling somewhere between the box wine of student days and elegant, gifting wine in bottles.  We accepted beer in a can, followed by other premium beverages in a can like cocktails, sake, and craft beer, what’s stopping us from embracing the wine in a can trend?

So why is this new format drawing so many consumers?  Firstly, it is mainly the millennial generation that is attracted to wine in a can.  This grouping of people is usually drawn to products of convenience, accessibility, approachability, especially when purchasing wine.

Canned wine ticks all those boxes and so many more:

  • Ease of use: simple to take anywhere, takes up little space, is practically a single-serve unit, no mess
  • Environmentally friendly: the product has a lower carbon footprint because of transporting its reduced weight as well as space efficiency. Aluminum cans are also far easier to recycle than glass
  • Faster chilling: making this product practically instant
  • Adaptability: canned wine can be used in places where glass is normally banned like in parks and swimming pools
  • Price: due to reduced costs of packaging and transport

It is now a question of premiumization.  Consumers, especially the millennials do not want lower quality products, in any format.  The challenge is to prove that canned wine can exceed the consumer’s expectations and deliver a quality wine, regardless of its format.  One way is to encourage the consumer to drink the wine out of a glass and not from the tin.  There is still the old myth: “won’t it taste like metal?”.

Age ability is the other difference.  Wine in a can is meant for immediate consumption.  There are currently no trials or stats to see what the aging process in a can might be, so for now, the wine in your cellar will remain in a bottle, but the wine in your picnic hamper may well be in a can.

Stel + Mar sent us some samples of their wine in a can. The Stel + Mar strap line is “premium wine in a can” and I was not disappointed.

The Premium White is a 250ml Californian Chardonnay at 14.5% alcohol.  It is quite delightful.  I tasted it, enjoyed it thoroughly and poured the rest of the can into my glass to enjoy as I wrote this piece.

Tasting Notes: Aromas of fresh nectarine, lemongrass and a refreshing honeysuckle note make it a very appealing everyday tipple.

The Premium Red is a Californian Zinfandel and has classic varietal typicity.

Tasting Notes: Blackberries and rose petals with dark cherries and cinnamon.  It’s heavy enough to satisfy but light enough to glug.

I am a fan of wine in a can.  It’s a growing business and is to be ignored at your peril.

Stel + Mar Website:  https://stelandmar.com/

Jenny Ratcliffe-Wright Cape Wine Master

Larkin Launches Premium Canned Wine

Larkin Wines, a boutique Napa winery which specializes in premium wines, has launched the first super-premium canned wine range to hit the UK market. The wines are aimed at specialty food retailers, drink retailers and event specialists.

The range includes: Larkin Napa Valley White 2017 is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Roussane; Larkin Napa Valley Red 2017 is a 100% Merlot; and Larkin Napa Valley Pink 2018 is a 100% Pinot Noir from Carneros.

Grapes have been sourced from the same small plot vineyards used for Larkin bottlings.

How the idea came about:

“The idea for Larkin came about when I was at the beach with friends and we had no wine due to the no glass policy. I started researching alternatively-packaged wines already on the market, and quickly realized there was no offer within the super-premium category” said owner/winemaker Sean Larkin.

UK distribution will be through James Hocking Wine, the new specialist boutique Californian agency. The cans will retail in UK at £9.99 for 37.5cl.

http://jacklarkin.com/

jameshockingwine.com