French Wine Consumers Go Digital
The French have a special yet sometimes contradictory relationship with wine. For the fourth consecutive year, consultants SoWine have sounded out current opinions and expectations regarding wine in France.
Four main trends were thrown up by this year’s survey: a change in information sources with a marked rejection of third-party sources, the desire to interact directly with the producer, a drop in the number of consumers buying wine on the internet, and greater access to information whilst on the go.
Eighty percent of respondents felt they needed information before buying wine or Champagne. Nearly two-thirds (59 percent) turn to friends and family, 43 percent rely on specialist wine merchants, 20 percent on the industry itself and 15 percent glean information at wine shows. Internet fell one slot to 5th place, perhaps due to the need to sift through a plethora of available information.
Despite this, social networking is popular amongst wine consumers and 74 percent of internet users say they enjoy interacting with producers via websites. Despite the fact that confidence levels regarding the accuracy of information on blogs and forums are up, fewer people viewed blogs in 2013 than in 2012 (35 percent versus 41 percent). Also, the number of French consumers buying wine on the internet dropped from 12 percent in 2012 to 10 percent this year. However, those that do buy wine on the internet favor it for delivery costs (90 percent), price (89 percent) and special offers (88 percent).
For the past four years, producer websites have remained the primary source of wine purchases on the internet whilst other outlets have tended to fluctuate. There is a definite ebb and flow in sales on event-driven websites offering special, short-term deals, specialist wine merchant websites and multiple grocer websites, for instance.
With the surge in the number of smartphones –50 percent of the French now own one compared with just 15 percent in 2010 – access to information whilst on the go is obviously increasing. In 2013, 47 percent of internet users viewing producer websites said they would like to access them from their smartphone, compared with 28 percent in 2012. 25 percent of respondents said they would like to be able order wine from their mobile phone, a percentage that rises to 38 percent for frequent buyers (daily or several times a week).