Consumers quaff imported wines as domestic wine brands seen inferior and lacking status, finds survey
Mumbai remains India’s largest wine consumption market, it is largely a domestic wine-driven market with low frequency of wine purchases and relatively lower spending on wine, compared to other centres.
Domestic wine brands are seen as inferior to imported wines in India. Imported wines are preferred for gifting too, as it is considered a status symbol. Consequently, good quality home-grown brands do not get mass appeal, according to a study -- "India Wine Insider 2017”, a survey of the urban Indian wine consumer released on Tuesday by Sonal Holland, Master of Wine and Founder of the Sonal Holland Wine Academy.
Domestic wines don’t score high for personal consumption as well. They are considered ‘value for money’ or in other words cheap. Hence, they are not preferred for gifting or for a party. This is contrary to some good wines produced by a few wine producers in the country, says Holland.
According to the report, it is largely a domestic wine-driven market with low frequency of wine purchases and relatively lower spending on wine that drives the Indian market because consumers are price sensitive. Price remains the most important choice cue for consumers. Other important choice cues when choosing wine are familiarity of brand name, country of origin and the colour of wine.
Consumers’ understanding of wine is limited; however, awareness and consumption are positively related. Other than colour, there is very little involvement with other wine styles; names of regions and grape varieties remain under-developed cues. This points to the nascence of the wine market in India, and the scope for educating and involving the consumer, the survey said.
Another interesting trend highlighted in the survey was that a large number of consumers, around 50 percent, prefer ordering wine by the glass in restaurants. The reason? Consumers are price conscious. Wines are largely sold in the range of Rs 600 and Rs 2,000 for a bottle. However, restaurants sell wines not less than Rs 300 and Rs 350 a glass. At fine dining and five star restaurants, the prices are very steep. Consumers prefer to guzzle it by the glass than buy a bottle though the latter works out economical.
Women in the forefront
Women are now willing to buy wine in a big way and also as frequently as men, reveals the report. Women form an important segment increasingly and hence should not be ignored by wine producers in the country. They are willing to buy wines 10 to 15 percent in the Rs 600 to Rs 1,500 price bracket unlike men, finds the survey.
A reason for women preferring to drink wine is the perception that it is a healthy option. “Women feel less inhibited to drink wine in cultures that look down upon consumption of hard liquor,” says Holland. There is this perception among women, said Holland, that wine is a healthy drink with some claiming it improves skin, hair, et al.
Wine production in India, though still at a nascent stage, is likely to reach 37 million litres by 2018 from 17 million litres estimated in 2015, according to a study.
The year-on-year growth rate has clocked five percent, according to the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham). "Clocking a CAGR of about 20 percent, wine consumption in India is likely to reach about 37 million litres by 2018 from the level of 18 million litres as of 2014," the study said.
Mumbai leads in wine consumption
While Mumbai remains India’s largest wine consumption market, Delhi shows an evolved culture with higher share consumption of international wines over domestic wines, coupled with a higher propensity for wine spends than Mumbai. Bangalore and Pune are vibrant wine markets. Consumers in these two cities show equal preference for both domestic and international wines across a range of styles, regions and varieties; willingness to pay higher price points, pointing to a rapidly emerging wine culture.
Goa, on the other hand, displays a preference for consuming wines largely at home with high prevalence of inexpensive Indian wines in their drinking portfolio, the survey reveals.
Younger consumers represent a promising market segment for the wine industry. Contrary to popular trade belief that the younger segment does not know how to appreciate wine, the study reveals that 25-34 year olds are purchasing wine as often as the older consumers. They show a strong preference for international wines over domestic wines and drink wines to appear classy, sophisticated and intelligent. Their positive attitude towards wine and aspiration to drink better quality wines positions them as tomorrow’s frequent, loyal wine drinkers.
"There is more awareness needed of wine producers in the country. Also, wine lists in restaurants have to go beyond a few wines to more varieties and better selections, said Holland, adding that the Indian wine industry is relatively new and will take some years to mature.
The survey was conducted across 879 consumers (half of it in women) in five centres -- Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore and Goa, aged over 25 years and permanent residents of India in the 'A' category social economic status who consumed wine at least once in six months.