Wines of Chile presented an update on the US market and the results of two recent research projects in a seminar addressed to its members on July 22, 2009.
Lori Tieszen, WoC’s Executive Director for the US, began with a positive Update on the US Market. “We in the US are never about the glass being half full,” she stated as she reviewed the changes in that market’s consumer behavior. The biggest change, she noted, was that people are staying in and entertaining at home, which means that while restaurant (on-trade) sales are down, the off-trade is rising. In fact, overall consumption is up 18%, and the market is still growing. Clearly people are looking for better value and Chile has plenty to offer.
Chile’s diversity is a big plus as people, especially younger consumers, are experimenting more and not only willing, but anxious, to try new things. Sales of Carmenere are up 91% and red blends, 17%. And just that morning, the New York Times ran an article by Eric Asimov touting the virtues of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc, which is also up by 33%.
Asimov isn’t the only one writing about Chilean wine these days. The shake-up in the economy has generated a fury of articles about value options, and Chile is clearly the go-to country for the diversity-quality-value trio that today’s consumers are demanding.
Marc Engel of the BRS Group presented the results of his company’s Research Report on the US On-Trade. After analyzing wine lists and doing extensive interviews with members of the New York City on-trade, they were able to determine the position of Chilean wine in the market with respect to the major–and the best–distributors, the types of restaurants that offered Chilean wines, and how much owners, chefs, buyers, and wait staff knew about the region’s wines and the country’s over-all image.
While there’s still work to be done to get the word out, the upside is that the word is getting out and the response is positive. Interviewees cited Chile’s consistently high quality as a definite plus and showed particular interest in some exciting red blends. They liked Chile’s authenticity; “Chilean wines are honest,” one person responded. Diversity was also a good selling point.
What people are missing, it seems, is more information about Chilean culture in general, tourism, arts, crafts, music, folklore, photography, foods, etc., which will certainly start to change with the upcoming opening of Puro Chile in New York City. Stay tuned to this website for more information in that regard as well.
Juan Park of Wine Intelligence offered their findings on Consumer Research on Chilean Wines in Canada. Canadian consumers, he reported, are clearly divided by region, age, and gender. Those in English-speaking Canada are more conservative and prefer white wines, they found, while people from Quebec are more willing to experiment and drink more red wine and rosés.
The highly detailed report (which is available in full to Wines of Chile members) determined who drinks Chilean wine and how often, whether they are likely to change, and what factors are most determinant in their wine-buying decisions.
Once again, the level of consumer knowledge played a role in whether or not they chose Chilean wines. Many Canadian consumers, especially those in English-speaking Canada, tend to prefer known brands and often buy local wines rather than branching out to new areas. Those who do know Chilean wines, however, tend to associate them with good flavor (wines they enjoy drinking), the varieties they like, and its very good value for money.
Among the suggestions for increasing Canadian consumption of Chilean wine, the report suggests increasing consumer education and media coverage, which, as Lori pointed out in her own presentation, is skyrocketing at the moment. “We have the momentum right now,” she said, “We’ve got volume, press, and visibility. We’ve got a great story to tell, and we’re going to take advantage of that!”
Wines of Chile members: Log in to download all three of these reports.