2020 has been such a difficult year in so many ways. Of course, we have all of the personal issues that the year has caused. With people being forced in lockdowns, we have seen our social lives decimated as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Many of us have lost jobs and, in the worst cases, even lives to the pandemic.
It’s fair to say that coronavirus has completely changed how we live and work.
That’s especially true of the Italian wine industry. Producers and retailers have scrambled throughout the year to maintain something close to business as usual and it has been a difficult battle. Many companies have adapted to all of the new safety requirements that this new world brings with it. And many others have managed to pivot their marketing and business strategies accordingly. But by the same token, there are many companies that have struggled to adapt to changing consumer sentiment and the restrictions placed on their working conditions.
But here’s the good news.
2021 is just around the corner and those in the industry have had time to adapt. With the emergence of new vaccines, we’re starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. And with a little luck, next year will bring with it greater fortune for the wine industry and the world at large.
With that in mind, we’ve decided to take a look at some of the industry forecasts for 2021 to see what the state of both global and Italian wine will be next year.
The Mixed Economic Bag
We’ll kick things off with Wine Intelligence’s annual analysis of the industry, in which they attempt to identify the upcoming trends that will affect wine in the coming year. They say that we’re going to see something of a mixed bag on the consumer end of things, not least because of the economic shuffles that will be required to adapt to the enormous spending resulting from the pandemic.
It predicts difficult times in the consumer markets, especially in countries where governments may need to raise tax rates in an effort to bring more money into the coffers after spending so much on aid and relief. These higher taxes, coupled with the damage done to businesses and, by extension, the people they employ, could lead to a fiscal conservatism that leads many to place their indulgences in Italian wine on the backburner.
Of course, this is bad news for producers. But on the plus side, the same report also notes that the lockdowns gave many people an opportunity to experiment with Italian wine for the first time. It theorises that one of the legacies of lockdown in the long-term may be a host of new consumers who will buoy the industry, especially when things start returning to some semblance of normal.
In short, those who love wine will still love wine and the industry will see new consumers who fell in love with the drink during lockdown. But in the immediate future, economic issues may cause many to shift their priorities until they’re in better financial positions.
Low Alcohol Wines May Be On the Rise
This comes from a snippet of Virgin Wines own analysis into its little slice of the industry in 2020. The company identifies a desire for healthy living as a key trend to have arisen out of lockdown periods, with any choosing to use the extra time on their hands to transform their lives and start to cut out things like unhealthy foods and alcohol.
To align with this, it appears that Virgin will be placing more of a focus on low-alcohol and non-alcoholic wines.
That thought may be anathema to many Italian wine lovers and this is obviously just the strategy that one company is taking. However, we can’t deny the logic behind it, as it is true that many have used the lockdown periods to try to enhance their lives in various ways. Perhaps 2021 will bring with it a trend towards these low-alcohol products, though it’s unlikely to come at much expense to traditional Italian wines.
The Drive Towards E-Commerce
Moving back to Wine Intelligence’s report, it also notes that the pandemic caused many wine producers and distributors to pivot in terms of how they sell to their clients. With so many people stuck at home, the traditional in-store channels became much harder to utilise in a cost-effective manner. As such, many in the industry shifted their focus to the online world, which has led to many companies that didn’t previously put much stock into e-commerce now starting to ramp up their web-based efforts.
In many cases, this means producers and retailers alike using their websites to engage with their customers and build deeper connections that will benefit them later on. But in others, we’ve seen companies enhance their websites so that they can start selling their products online.
Of course, you don’t need us to tell you that this is a shrewd business move for many in the industry. As Italy’s leading online marketplace for amazing wines, we know all about the power of the internet, both in terms of its ability to forge connections and as a buying medium.
It seems that 2021 will lead to even more companies adapting to our way of thinking, especially when faced with strict limitations elsewhere. For example, we may see wineries that offer in-cellar tours shift to virtual tours as an alternative, especially in areas where pandemic-related restrictions still apply.
The Final Word
We can’t say that the outlook for 2021 is absolutely perfect.
There are still many challenges ahead, especially in terms of the economic impact that the pandemic has had and the wide-reaching consequences that we will feel for many years to come.
But the Italian wine industry has reason to cheer.
2020 hasn’t been a catastrophic year for wine, which keeps it in stark contrast to many other types of business. And as we head into 2021 more prepared for what it may bring, we only see the Italian wine industry strengthening in the months to come.