As we reach the halfway point of 2021, we can see that the world of wine is changing.
This is nothing new.
The Italian wine industry, alongside every other country’s industry, evolves on a regular basis. We see new trends emerge and old trends subside. And it is through understanding, and adapting to, these changing trends that Italian producers are able to stay at the peak of the industry while providing their customers with amazing wines.
With that in mind, this article will examine seven of the trends that are changing the world of wine in 2021 and beyond, starting with…
Trend #1 – The Move to Digital
Digital technology has been a part of the wine industry for many years at this point. Most producers understand the value of selling their wines online, leading them to set up their own online stores or engage with third-party merchants, such as Xtrawine.
However, the pandemic has revealed just how far wine companies can go with digital technology. In the past year, we’ve seen the rise of digital wine events, virtual wine tours, and a host of other online-enabled concepts that allow producers and the industry at large to engage consumers wherever they are in the world.
We see many producers making such digital solutions permanent parts of their arsenals going forward, even as we leave the pandemic environment.
Trend #2 – Changing Packaging
We have seen changes in shopping patterns in many countries that indicate that some consumers want to move away from traditional wine bottles.
Boxed wine, which has existed for decades, has experienced a surge in popularity that likely has a lot to do with ease of storage. Similarly, we have seen some producers adopt cans as storage vessels for their wines, as they allow for cost-effective single-serving production.
While we don’t see these different forms of packaging overtaking the use of traditional bottles anytime soon, they are indicative of how some segments of the market are looking for something different in their wines. Producers may have to start offering their wines in different packaging to continue appealing to these market segments.
Trend #3 – The Demand for New Variety
If there is one wine-based benefit to take away from the pandemic, it’s that spending so much time in lockdown has led to many people changing their mealtime habits. Where people may have once gone out to a restaurant and limited themselves to the wine options on the menu, we now see more people experimenting with meal ideas and different bottles of wine.
The result is that there is an increasing demand for variety.
Many are discovering wines beyond the select few that they had favoured in the past. And as this demand for variety increases, we’re likely to see smaller producers starting to make more sales to explorative consumers.
Trend #4 – The Increasing rise of Sustainable Practices
If you’ve kept up with the Xtrawine blog, you will know that we have posted several articles that discuss the rise of the organic and biodynamic movements in the Italian wine industry.
These movements are part of a larger push towards more sustainable wine production practices. Producers are becoming more aware of the effects that older practices have on their land, leading to many forgoing chemical products in favour of natural production methods. This, in turn, enhances the health of the land and ensures that it will be usable for generations to come.
This health aspect also carries over into the products that winemakers offer to consumers. Many prefer to drink organic and biodynamic wines because they know these wines are free of potentially harmful chemicals. As such, we predict that more winemakers will make the change to using sustainable production methods in the coming years.
Trend #5 – Deeper Connections With Consumers
One of the unexpected benefits of the pandemic is that it prompted winemakers to forge deeper connections with their consumers. Where we once saw transactional relationships, we now see many producers reaching out to their customers in an effort to keep them engaged during difficult times.
The strength of these bonds enable consumers to develop a deeper appreciation of the wines they buy, in addition to helping producers strengthen their brands. The example of virtual wine tours that we shared earlier shows this in action. Through these tours, producers are able to forge connections with consumers from all over the world. This trend of creating deeper connections will continue as producers unearth more of the benefits of having direct interactions with customers.
Trend #6 – Price Consciousness
Another side-effect of the pandemic is that many consumers have become more price-conscious when shopping for wines.
While the financial difficulties the pandemic caused will ease, it’s possible that many consumers will take this price awareness into future purchases. If nothing else, they will become more selective in their wine choices, which may be bad news for luxury producers but could lead to more sales for smaller producers that can offer quality wines at lower prices.
Trend #7 – Low and No-Alcohol
While the low and no alcohol movements haven’t had much of an impact on the wine industry at the time of writing, it seems like only a matter of time before it does. 2020 saw a 58% increase in the sale of non-alcoholic beers, with overall sales of these types of beverages rising by 170% since 2017.
Alcohol data analysis firm IWSR predicts that non-alcoholic beer sales will increase by a further 38% by 2024, highlighting the fact that there is a growing market for non-alcoholic variants of traditionally alcohol-based products. The wine industry is unlikely to ignore this trend, meaning it’s likely that we will start to see more producers experiment with providing non-alcoholic options.
The Final Word
The trends that shape the Italian wine industry are often the result of changes both in consumer demands and the economic environment.
The seven we’ve highlighted here are likely to affect the global industry for years to come. What isn’t certain is just how deep the impact of each of these trends will run.
I’m a passionate about good wine and good cooking.
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