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Wine Consumers Trading Down and Out

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Consumers will toast in holiday cheer with wine again this year, but many are making category trade-downs and trade-outs due to economic factors, per a new survey released by Mintel this week.

Sixty-seven percent of U.S. consumers will consume wine at home this holiday season.

However, more than a third (37 percent) now buy less expensive wine products to save money. Fifteen percent opted for cask/boxed wine instead of pricier bottled brands, even though consumers preferred the taste of more expensive wines.

"As wine finds its way out of the recession, it might be taking on a new form,” said Sarah Theodore, Mintel senior food and drink analyst, in a statement. “The down economy has given impetus to boxed wine. Marketers have an opportunity right now to really play up the benefits of this type of packaging and finally eliminate its 'cheap' image."

Consumers are also trading out of the wine category altogether. Eighteen percent switched to less expensive alcoholic beverages and 14 percent opted for beer to save money. Twenty-two percent reported drinking more non-alcoholic beverages.

Still the category is growing albeit on a small scale. According to Nielsen data, year-over-year table wine dollar sales totaled $8.3 billion for the 52-week period ending Oct. 17, 2009, marking a 3.5 percent increase. Unit sales for that same period grew 1.7 percent to total 113,567,142. Overall, the wine market has grown 20 percent in consumption since 2004.

"Despite the recent decline, the future of the wine market looks bright, at least for moderately priced segments," said Theodore. "Value wines have helped consumers rethink their perceptions about wine. Domestic wines have proven to be somewhat recession-proof as unpretentious, economy-priced wines are fuelling recent sales."

Data for Mintel’s U.S. Wine Report Oct. 2009 was comprised by Greenfield Online from the online responses of 1,878 U.S. adults of legal drinking age in July 2009. Data from Experian Consumer Research’s Experian Simmons National Consumer Survey (NCS), and the Experian Simmons National Hispanic Consumer Survey (NHCS), conducted Feb. 2008 –March 2009 was also included.