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Define the impact of the lockdown on wine consumption in Italy, a product by its nature linked to many different consumption occasions, from home use in restaurants, during meals, as an aperitif, physical and tangible product, but also experiential, easily associated with visits to the cellar and in the vineyard, and therefore with tourism, investigating the impact of forced confinement on the quantity, frequency and occasions of purchase and consumption of wine in Italy, with the aim of helping to restore a portrait comprehensive, based on data and their analysis, of the impact that the crisis has had on the wine world: here are the trump cards of the research “How the outbreak of the pandemic influenced wine consumption in Italy – Situation, trends and challenges”, signed from the wine e-commerce start up Sommelier Wine Box.
The results are interesting in each of the analyzed directions. The volume of wine consumed during the lockdown has tended to increase, but a pattern emerges in which those who drank more often before the lockdown were less affected by the lockdown, while those who drank less suffered a greater impact, increasing consumption in the most of the cases (and for a minority by decreasing consumption a lot). The main consumption occasion was dinner. Regardless of age and previous consumption occasions: those who drank wine during the lockdown did so mainly for dinner. However, those who already drank during meals before the lockdown began to consume wine on other occasions as well, such as online aperitifs. Online shopping volumes also increased during the lockdown. Furthermore, those who tried the channel for the first time during the lockdown were generally satisfied.

Analyzing the different phases of the Sommelier Wine Box research, before the lockdown 52% of the interviewees drank at least 1 bottle of wine every 4-5 days. The favorite places for wine consumption were: one’s own or friends’ homes and restaurants. It should be noted that young people are increasingly looking for direct experiences with producers, as evidenced by the trend towards consumption in the cellar, which decreases with increasing age. 41% of respondents state that they have purchased wine online before the lockdown, respondents between 35 and 44 years old reach 49%. Men on average bought wine online more than women (45% vs 36%) but among the over 40s the tendency to buy wine online was higher in women (43% vs 40% of men).
The impact of the lockdown is evident from the activities carried out by the interviewees during home confinement, which are found to be influenced by age. The younger have studied or trained, the older have tended to read. Instead, common activities for all age clusters were watching movies / tv / series and trying their hand at cooking. 48% of the interviewees declared to have changed their wine consumption, increasing it, during the lockdown compared to the previous period. On the other hand, as the frequency of consumption of pre-lockdown wine decreases, the impact of the lockdown itself increases, with the clear majority of respondents changing their habits, generally increasing or to a small extent decreasing their wine consumption. The lockdown therefore had an impact in relation to the purchase of wine online: 50% of respondents recorded changes in purchasing behavior, either because they started buying wine online or because they increased their purchase volume.
Returning to the pre-lockdown consumption occasions: those who had assigned a rating of 7 or higher to wine consumption at wineries, have the highest percentage of components that started buying online and continued because they were satisfied with the experience, compared to those who preferred other pre-lockdown deals (33%, compared to 22% on average). On the other hand, those who have assigned a rating of 7 or higher to wine consumption during winemaking events have a much higher percentage than the average use of the online channel even before the lockdown (58%, against 41% on average). These two figures offer some food for thought. The first is that the category of wine lovers appreciates the online channel more than “normal” consumers. The second is that an opportunity arises in trying to transfer the experiential component of wine even without the physical presence.
A final reasoning should be dedicated to online wine buying behaviors between men and women. It is interesting to underline that there is absolute parity between those who started buying online during the lockdown: this is 28% of women and 28% of men. As for the experience related to buying wine online, the disadvantages have a much lower rating than the advantages: on average, the online shopping experience is judged positively. Furthermore, it is noted that the highest average rating (4) is assigned to “I discover new wineries”, followed by “I have a wider range of choice” (3.9). The one for “I find better offers” (3,4) is lower. The data is interesting and indicates the maturity of those who buy wine online. Those who buy online do so to have more choice of product than in physical stores and to discover new wineries, that is, the purchase is guided more by an orientation towards quality rather than convenience.
Ultimately, given the success of the online shopping experience, we wanted to investigate the reason why 21.4% of those who tried the online purchase during the lockdown returned to traditional channels once the lockdown was over. This group was then isolated and the scores they assigned to the advantages and disadvantages were observed. The result showed a systematically lower rating with regard to benefits. It can therefore be assumed that the reason why this group of individuals has returned to offline shopping after the lockdown is a general lower consideration of the advantages, not considered sufficient to continue, rather than real negative experiences.

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Marco Ribaudo

Marco Ribaudo

For the love of food and wine! Marco Ribaudo, Certified Sommelier, with 25 years in the food and beverage industry now invites you to join him in his latest adventure, the opening of la Cucina del Vino to share his culture and passion for creating unforgettable memories around the table.

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