Miniatures are by no means new as a format but consumers and the wine industry continues to be in love with them.
There are many reasons for the format’s success, from being ‘cute’, to helping manage daily consumption, to lending themselves to being ‘giftable’. There is also the simple fact that they make companies more money per ml than other sizes right through the commercial chain.
Another major factor in the continual growth of the miniature wine category is technological advancements over a relatively small period of time.
Over the last 10 years the bottling lines at wineries have seen amazing improvements in their efficiency and flexibility. This has taken range choice from being only a handful of sources to many dozens of companies that can make small formats.
Additionally, growing popularity has attracted large brands to the category, which has in turn meant that glass manufacturers have widened the choice of available moulds of glass.
The bottom line
The sum of this is a greater proposition for the end consumer, who have been voting with their wallets, purses and wheelbarrows.
According to Nielsen, in the 52 weeks to July 2022, the off-trade wine industry (still and sparkling) declined by (-8.4%), largely led by the re-opening of the on trade and a re-balance of the sales splits.
Compare that to 187ml (small bottles of still wine) and you’d think that the (-2.4%) growth of this sub-category is healthy. But its in 20cl, small bottles of sparkling wine, where you can really see the strong rate of growth; at +8% YoY it is flying and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.
Miniature bottles suit so many different drinking occasions: a stocking filler, in-flight drink, picnics.... It’s a long list and it’s getting longer as we return to post-Covid normality.
Single-serving sizes also benefit premium wines; quality can deteriorate quickly when a bottle of wine is opened, so when serving the “drinks for one for now” occasion, miniatures ensure every sip is enjoyable.
Bottles still seem to be the winning packaging for wine miniatures, while cans have been dubbed as the next big thing in wine, we have yet to see this translate into hard sales.
Whereas cans in the pre-mixed spirit drinks category definitely do work, I’m sceptical of their success in wine but the format has certainly attracted interest from buyers and shoppers alike and is better suited to events and festivals.
The wine industry has invested many millions of pounds in making wine cans work, and for everyone’s sake I hope they form part of the landscape moving forwards, but they have yet to hit the heights that retailers and brand owners bet big on!
One area companies can be surer of is the gifting market, which has proven growth over many years. Brands including Beams International and Blue Tree have enjoyed the successes of packaging up small bottles of wine with gifts such as candles, chocolates, nice glassware, and selling them in supermarkets and online.
The consumer is happy to pay a premium for a ‘turn-key’ gift, and with brands such as Freixenet and Barefoot getting involved, they are also able to purchase brands that they know and trust.
Is the future miniature?
Miniature bottles of wine make the industry lots of money, that’s the first reason why they are offered, but they WORK due to the fact that consumers actually want to buy them.
This virtuous circle will continue to build over the coming decade and we will see bigger, better and bolder innovation come to the fore. This virtuous circle will continue to build over the coming decade and we will see bigger, better and bolder innovation come to the fore.
Of course, full sized bottles will remain the standard, however as inflation and the challenging economy will continue to shape consumer spending in the next year, the market for smaller, more affordable tastes of luxury will prove, if anything, more resilient.
About Beyond Wines
Beyond Wines is a UK based distributor founded by Alex Green and Matt Johnson, run by them as well as Director, Stuart Bond. They are three members of the senior team behind i heart wines and Freixenet and have over 60 years combined experience in the wine trade. Beyond Wines’ portfolio includes pillar brand Liquid Diamond, created to make wine more accessible to the social media generation, and they also act as the UK agent to several internationally acclaimed wineries around the world.