Though 107 million Americans drink wine, according to Wine Market Council (WMC), in the last year wine sales in the U.S. market have started to decline in volume. Part of this has to do with a general decline in alcohol consumption due to health and wellness trends, inflation fears, and a proliferation of new beverage entries in the market.
However, a recent WMC study, conducted by Beverage Alcohol expert and consultant, Danny Brager, has identified several bright spots in the market. “In a flat or declining market, it is always good to look for where those pockets of growth are,” stated Brager in a recent webinar.
Therefore, using NielsenIQ wine data, Brager analyzed the last 52 weeks of sales, ending June 17, 2023, to identify the top 100 wine brands in the U.S. that were exhibiting the largest increases in actual dollar gains year on year, while also growing volume. Then he sorted them into major categories, and discovered that there are several segments that are selling well:
#1) Better for You Wines – The popularity of the health and wellness trend is apparent in the growing number of wines that are being crafted to fit the ‘Better for You’ section at many grocery stores and wine shops. These generally have labels that include such terms as “lower calorie, lower alcohol, no sugar, and other similar descriptors,” stated Brager.
#2) Zippy New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc – The fresh, fruity and zippy white sauvignon blancs produced in NZ have grown in popularity in the past couple of years, and are selling well for some brands. This trends towards lighter, fresh, and crisp white wines is especially popular in summer months.
#3) Sparkling Wines – wine with bubbles continues to enchant Americans, and is also very popular with younger and multi-cultural wine consumers. Fortunately many more U.S. wineries are now producing sparkling wine to participate in this growing trend – but clever marketing is needed to propel brands into the limelight.
#4) Italian Wine and Prosecco – Americans continue their love affair with Italian wines, especially sparkling Proseccos in the summer months. Also the food friendly Italian reds, coupled with fun and friendly advertising seems to keep consumers reaching for these wines.
#5) Wine Cocktails and Other Non-Traditional Wines – Creative wine cocktails, spritzers and flavored wines continue to gain fans – especially in the warmer summer months. But also sake, vermouth, and “some dessert wines, such as Taylors port, which has been at the center of a TikTok challenge,” Brager continued.
#6) Wine in Alternative Containers – Some wine brands sold in boxes, cans and tetra are doing well in the U.S. market, most likely due to the added convenience and portability compared to traditional glass bottles. The fact that these containers also have a lower carbon footprint is also attractive to some consumers.
The Sweet Spot for Wine Pricing in This Competitive Market
Interestingly, the price range for the 100 top best-selling wine brands in the U.S. market this past year was higher than some may have suspected. “Across price tiers, the sweet spot for the majority of the top 100 brands was in the $15 – $25 range,” stated Brager.
However, this corresponds to another American consumer desire to splurge a little more on themselves after surviving the pandemic. So in general, Americans are spending more per bottle for the wine they are drinking, but consuming less. In contrast, during the great recession, the average price per bottle Americans paid for wine ranged from $8 to $10.
Wineries that are struggling in this more competitive market should pay attention to some of these hot summer trends, as well as to ensure that their marketing tactics are resonating with consumers.
Wine Market Council Research on U.S. Market
The Wine Market Council has been conducting research on the U.S. wine market and consumers for more than 20 years now. It is a non-profit organization that achieves revenue from member dues, donations, and grants. Its mission is to advance the U.S. wine market and industry by providing wine market knowledge, trends, insights, and intelligence to all tiers of the wine industry.