The New Normal: Dissecting the Themes from USBevX 2016

“The New Normal” was the theme of the inaugural US Beverage Industry Expo, held in Washington, D.C. last month. It was a clever initiative that encouraged attendees to look across all alcoholic beverage categories and put some facts into perspective.

Cross-analyzing the alcoholic beverage industry helps us understand where each category (wine, beer, spirits, and cider) stands within this $216 billion business. The idea is to broaden the tunnel vision from looking only within one category to see what else is outside of it.

Let’s look at some numbers presented during the conference. Consider these key takeaways for your wine marketing:

  • With 85 percent of the new restaurants being independent, wine marketers need to think of each premise as a separate customer. Personalization is necessary to connect with new clients and flexibility is key in executing strategies.the-new-normal_block_2
  • With wine currently representing 15 percent of American alcohol beverage spend, it has huge potential for growth. If wine brands looked at how beer and spirits are communicating with drinkers, the industry could learn, adapt, innovate, and grow.the-new-normal_block_3
  • Although total volumes are down, there is an increase of 6 percent in flavored vodka types, according to Nielsen. Is it an aversion to change, or a real market demand for all these flavored vodkas? This can be a useful insight for wines trying to gain shelf space at bars. How can wine take this space from flavored vodkas?
  • With 82% of people looking off-premise for a wine they have tried on-premise, wine brands should take this opportunity and invest in educating and training on-premise staff. Adding value through brand experience helps increase sales and loyalty.the-new-normal_block_4
  • While 40% of Millennials declare to drink all three categories (wine, beer, and spirits), only 4% of them say they drink only wine. How can wine make itself more relevant and wanted? There is an opportunity for wines to work on their exclusivity for stomach-share. Understanding drinkers’ motivations for choosing beer and/or spirits instead of wine can lead to great insights.

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So what does the “New Normal” mean? Simply put, it means that what we thought we knew is now outdated—what was normal in the industry until today will no longer be relevant in the same manner. It questions and puts into perspective an industry where all categories battle for the same stomach-share. The New Normal means that we need to accept that consumers drink across all categories and brands need to adapt to their consumption habits.

Younger generations are consuming differently, and their behaviors are the New Normal to consider for business decisions. They are leading the revolution, and brands need to change with them. The generational shift is already happening and with it, markets are changing, too.

There is a blend of alcoholic beverages in consumers’ minds. Brands should know that they are not competing within their own categories, but across all categories. A wine brand needs to think of how it can fit in and where it stands compared to beer, spirits, and cider. Understanding consumption moments, occasions, and moods is essential for successfully marketing brands.

Analyzing and understanding the whole picture of the alcohol industry can bring in fresh and innovative ideas. Comprehending the broadened competitive landscape is vital for business growth because the future is more vibrant and complex than we think. The past has taken us to where we are now; the future is about advancing the wine industry by coexisting in the blended consumer market. Wine marketers should be expanding their views by accepting the changes that are occurring in consumers’ minds.

The consumer’s question is no longer, why should I buy your wine instead of another wine brand. The question is, “why should I buy your wine instead of another wine, beer or spirits brand?” Answer that, and your wine brand is one step closer to tackling the New Normal.

About the Author

Reka Haros is a seasoned marketer and wine business developer with a solid background in brand management and communications thanks to her prior career in FMCG and Advertising industries. She is managing partner at Sfriso Winery in Italy and a marketing and business development consultant for both in and outside the wine industry. Follow Reka on twitter @RekaHaros

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