I recently posted an Instagram story poll: 79% said they prefer buying wine in-store, while only 21% opts for buying wine online. The vast majority of the participants are between 18-35. This made me think, who is really your online wine market?
Following an article on the rise of digital wine sales published in The Washington Post, I did a quick poll on my Instagram story. How do you prefer buying wine? Of the 149 participants, 79% said in-store, while only 21% opts. for online. The vast majority of my followers are between the ages of 18-35. This result came as a shock to me as the general assumption is that the younger generation would be your online wine buyer. This just shows that your younger wine consumers are not necessarily your online consumer, as one expected. Although the poll does not in any way follow or produce a formal or concrete research method, it can give us a good indication of consumer behaviour. The finding can also be substantiated by data we obtain daily through our online sales. This is thus purely my observation from limited "research" and sales observation.
Many assumptions can be made, from the above, about e-customers buying wine in South Africa, this is thus only a few:
- Older generations have got more disposable income to spend - thus they can order wine without needing it immediately due to a high stock level of wine at home. The wine they ordered online won't necessarily be for immediate consumption. With the disposable income at hand, they have the buying power to buy large quantities of wine, online. This is much easier than shopping around in stores searching for a retailer with enough stock and not necessarily all the product lines of a particular estate. The estate's online shop offers a one-stop-shop to buy large quantities of wine from the entire range.
- Younger generations tend to buy for immediate consumption. In other words, the wine I buy today I'll drink tonight. They don’t have the income to build up a wine collection or to store wine. They work on subsistence consumption. Financially they don't have the power to build on wine stock, yet.
- Younger generations have got used to "instant gratification". It stems from fast food, instant money services such as UberEATS and on-demand streaming services. No need to wait for anything, want it? Get it, now! The idea of ordering and waiting for something for more than a day is going against instant gratification.
- Older generations are those who grew up in a "pre-instant gratification era" They were used to receiving a letter in the post that can take weeks. Paper is patient. For them waiting for something is not punishment.
- One could also ask then, but if the older generation grew up in a pre-digital era, why are they the ones buying wine online. Well, quite simply the pandemic forced them to. During the lockdown, liquor outlets were closed. The only way of ordering wine was through online stores, for delivery post-alcohol ban. They then realised that it is quite simple and easy to do. You can now order a bottle or box of your favourite wine at whatever time and wherever you are.
Although online wine sales are only now showing a surge in growth, it is vital to understand the consumer and the way they buy and consume wine. It is easy to generalise that your younger generation, who is mostly your more tech-savvy audience, is automatically your online wine buyer. In this case, it seems to be incorrect. This makes one rethink your online and in-trade market approach. How much are you catering for an older generation online and how much are you catering for the younger market in-store?