WICresearch has been studying wine-in-can products and recently released a market implications report to debut its findings.
Though trendy, only 50% of those surveyed by WIC said they have tried canned wine before.
The top-selling bottled wine varietals sold in the US last year were Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Blends, Pinot Grigio/Gris, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Moscato/Muscat, Rosé, White Zinfandel, according to WIC.
Nearly 3,500 US consumers were included in WIC’s wider survey, and 63.6% of all male participants reported that they have tried canned wine compared to 48.3% of females.
WIC considers the main market drivers behind canned wine to be convenience, occasion expansion, sustainability and cost savings, quality, variety, portion control and visual image and branding. WIC is a US-based group dedicated to tracking and researching the wine in can industry.
Testing a fad?
The blind taste test to gauge consumer preference between bottled and canned wines was a smaller subset of the survey group, comprised of 86 adults age 21-74. They used identical wine from same winery that had been canned and bottled, then poured into a cup for the test.
The tasters sampled a dry chardonnay, a dry Riesling, a dry rose, and a sparkling sweet moscato. Overall, 48.5% preferred the bottled wines, 45.3% preferred the canned, and 5.8% had no preference between the two.
The overall numbers aligned with the individual numbers of the dry chardonnay and the sparkling sweet moscato, with a ‘no preference’ under 6% for each. But 26.2% had no preference between the bottled or canned dry Riesling, and 31.1% equally liked the dry rose.
And though 57% self-identified as having higher subjective wine knowledge than their peers, WIC found that they were just as likely to taste, purchase and enjoy wine in a can. Gender and age were also not a factor.
“As awareness for this innovative wine packaging continues to grow, it is becoming clear to wine makers, distributors, retailers, and most importantly, consumers, that this time around wine-in-a-can is not a fad, rather it represents a significant, new wine category that is finding a permanent positive place in the overall wine market,” the report said.
Convenience and portability are key
In 2018, Nielsen reported that canned wine sales reached $50m, with sales up by 69% and volumes up by 47%. The trend was born out of smaller labels, but leading wineries like E&J Gallo, The Wine Group, Constellation Brands and Treasury Wine Estates are now all in the canned wine market.
Though canned wine is a hit in restaurants, bars and wineries, it’s also spreading to venues that do not traditionally serve wine. Stadiums, beaches, pools, boating clubs and zoos are proving good locations for canned wine drinking, and it's being utilized differently across global markets.
“In Japan wine in cans are very popular, but even more popular (and perhaps driving sales) is Japan’s embrace of vending machines to deliver wine in cans, as well as fancy gift boxes for a more upscale presentation,” the report said.
Canning is attractive in terms of sustainability, says WIC, as aluminum has the potential to be recycled multiple times. WIC also found that it’s slightly cheaper than bottling, making it an option for smaller brands.
“The convenience and portability associated with packaging wine in aluminum cans permits new wine consumption based on two new occasion dimensions--location and event,” the report said.
“The consumer demand generated from such occasions is a main driver to overall increases in wine sales – as opposed to the cannibalization of bottled wine sales. The fast double-digit growth of wine in cans is not stealing business from the already strained wine market growth of 1-4%, instead it bolsters total wine sales.”