Oct 31, 2018

Finding Growth: Where the Wine, Beer and Spirits Markets Are Headed

It’s no secret that legacy panel data doesn’t paint a full picture of retail spending across all channels. Sure, you can find out how your brand is performing in stores like Walmart and Kroger, but what about the increasing popularity of convenience retailers? What about shoppers that shop online? How can you make business decisions based on today’s market if you can’t see all of it?

Data from the InfoScout OmniPanel show that the blind spot is often bigger than brands and retailers realize. Case in point: the wine, beer and spirits categories.

Our research shows a full two-thirds of wine, beer and spirits spend is happening in non-traditional channels in which legacy panels traditionally underrepresent shopper behavior. And spend in these channels is growing. That’s a massive blind spot.

Look at it this way. When you account for the entire omnichannel market, the full wine market is $35 billion dollars. A spending shift of just 1% means $35 million is moving to blind spot channels. For beer, the full market is $51 billion. For spirits, the full market is $40 billion. But just one-third of spend in these categories is being captured by legacy panels.


Household Penetration in the Full Omnichannel Market

Digging deeper into the wine category, Walmart is the top wine retailer by household penetration (HH penetration). The combined penetration of Costco, Aldi and Trader Joe’s is about the same as Walmart. However, Costco, Aldi and Trader Joe’s are retailers that are basically invisible to legacy panels. And those are just a few of the bigger names. The local wine shops and liquor stores aren’t being accounted for either.

For some wine brands, the discrepancy between what you see in legacy panel data and what’s actually happening in the broader, omnichannel market is even wider. For example, non-traditional channel HH penetration for private label brands is almost double the penetration in traditional channels.

Brand marketers need full visibility into the true size of the market and where consumers are spending in order to create strategies that grow sales and penetration. How can you make the right strategic decisions if you’re working with inaccurate, incomplete data that skew your view of the market?

More Urgent Need Trips in Non-Legacy Channels

When we analyzed shopping trips by number of items in the basket in the wine, beer and spirits categories, we found that urgent need trips in which one or two items are purchased are much more prevalent in non-traditional channels.

Focusing again on the wine category, 25% of omnichannel trips with wine in the basket are urgent need trips, compared to 13% for legacy trips. On the other end of the spectrum, pantry stocking trips involving 21 or more items are much less common in non-traditional channels. 32% of trips in traditional channels are pantry stocking trips compared to 11 percent for non-traditional channels.

Legacy panel data tell you that wine is purchased during stock-up trips. However, it doesn’t tell you that a significant portion of wine is purchased during smaller, quicker trips, perhaps for quick consumption. Brands that make marketing decisions without fully understanding consumer behavior could end up wasting money and inhibiting growth.


Also, the buying rate for red wine and white wine is about 10 percent higher in non-legacy channels. For bubbles, the buying rate is more than 30 percent higher in non-legacy channels.

This means shoppers could very well be worth more annually than brands realize. Based on this data, brands should change how they think about shopper segmentation and adjust their growth strategies for each segment.

The Bottom Line

The high-level takeaway here is that more and more consumers are buying wine, beer and spirits in non-traditional, or blind spot channels. In fact, the total spend in non-traditional channels is twice as high as traditional channels (two-thirds vs. one-third). It’s not even close.

There are always new entrants into the market. Brands and retailers need to be able to respond to the latest trends based on a full, clear picture of current market data. Legacy panels aren’t capable of painting such a picture. Make sure you understand how your brand or category is performing in the broader omnichannel market – traditional and non-traditional channels, online and offline – so you can make the right strategic decisions with no blind spots. 

Click here to set up a demo and learn more about how Numerator, powered by the InfoScout OmniPanel, can help you view blind spots and elevate your top line.