Prosecco sales are booming in convenience stores as consumers demand lighter style wines, creating an explosion of new wine choices

Beer, wine and spirits sales in the convenience channel will match those in out-of-town supermarkets by 2020, analysts at IRI predict. Off-trade alcohol sales grew 1.9% to £15bn in the past year (IRI, year to January 2015), and two-thirds of this goes through supermarkets. But it is the convenience sector that is driving growth, with sales up 10.6% in volume and 8.7% in value.

And within wine, Prosecco is the star performer, despite rumours that supplies might run dry. Last year Britons drank 21 million litres of the Italian sparkling variety, double the amount of 2013 (Kantar).

Jai Singh, who runs Singh’s Go Local Extra in Sheffield, says he has increased the store’s range to tap into this demand. “We are seeing good sales of sparkling wines, particularly Prosecco, which sells well at about the £6.99 mark,” he says. “It sells a lot quicker on promotion, about £6 a bottle.”

Nick Davey, store manager at Knight’s Budgens in Hassocks, West Sussex, says Prosecco is still “flying out of the store”. “We always have at least one Prosecco on promotion now; currently, we have 25% off Italia Prosecco and that’s been very popular,” he says. “We include it in our wine towers, as well as in the chiller cabinets. It’s also highlighted in our leaflets and posters.”

To tap into the growing interest in Prosecco, producer Australian Vintage has released its own take on the popular drink, a sparkling Semillon called McGuigan Frizzante.

“Sparkling wine has proven itself to be a non-seasonal, year-round favourite drink,” says Julian Dyer, general manager UK/Europe, Australian Vintage. “This trend will lead to a wider variety of sparkling wine products on the shelves.”

And Budge Dhariwal, managing director of Budge Brands, says its Premier Estates Wine Prosecco Extra Dry and Grand Rosé Spumante continue to be “fantastic sellers” wherever they are stocked.

Drinks supplier CWF has also invested in its sparkling wines. “We anticipate key trends for this summer will include unusual blends and upmarket Proseccos,” says head of marketing Amy Ledger. “In 2014, we introduced a new rosé variant of the extremely popular Casa Gheller Prosecco from the eminent Casa Gheller winery in the Prosecco region of Veneto.”

Lighter options

The interest in Prosecco shows a general consumer move to lighter and fruitier wine styles, which is also reflected within still wine. The interest in lighter styles continues to drive sales of rosé wines. Sales grew by 35% year on year last year (Kantar).

Fruit-flavoured wine drinks are also in demand. Julian Dyer says Australian Vintage has been making moves to address this trend. “A significant trend is the growth of wine-based drinks to achieve ‘value’ price points,” he says. “We recently launched a 75cl brand called Shy Pig, with an rrp of £3.99, which delivers great taste at a great price point. We have been astonished by the success of this new brand, and it clearly demonstrates to us the need to think outside the norm when it comes to product development.”

Meanwhile, brands that historically have sold well through the convenience sector are also extending into this area. Blossom Hill, for example, has made sure it has been tapping into demand for sweeter and lighter wine styles.

Echo Falls made a similar move with last year’s rollout of the flavoured fruit-based Fruit Fusions range (wines are 9.5-11% ABV). The range is now being expanded into RTD options in the same flavours of raspberry & cassis, white with white peach & mango and rosé with summer berries.

And E&J Gallo announced earlier this year that it, too, would have a fruit-flavoured wine offering. The producer brought out Gallo Family Vineyards Spritz slightly sparkling 5.5% ABV drinks. The slightly sparkling drinks are less alcoholic than most wines, and come under the banner of Gallo Family Vineyards Spritz. The producer has also created a similar Barefoot Refresh sub-brand for its Barefoot wine brand. The range of spritzers is available in five flavours: crisp white, perfectly pink, crisp red, summer red and sweet white (rrp £6.99). The firm’s website recommends different food pairings for each variant - for example, the crisp white’s ‘perfect partner’ is grilled salmon and kebabs, while the pink spritzer works with nachos and pizza.

Food and wine

Jacob’s Creek has also been pairing food and wine. In April, it created a new wine-matching guide for light bites. The guide pairs sausage rolls with Riesling, as well as nachos with Pinot Grigio.

“Britons told us they wanted to know about the best wines to go with snacks such as wasabi peas, popcorn and chocolate as well as old favourites like pizza. And this new take on wine pairings is the perfect solution,” the company’s winemaker Rebekah Richardson explains.

Siting wines next to their food partners in store can also help to grow sales. “We see an uplift in sales of Eisberg when it is sited with similar ‘night in’ products that have a natural synergy,” says Fran Draper, brand manager of alcohol-free wine brand Eisberg.

Nick at Knight’s Budgens has benefitted from placing wine near complementary foods. He says he has noticed a definite trend of people shopping for their meals or snacks each day and picking up wine at the same time. “People just don’t have the time to go around a big superstore anymore,” he explains. “We sometimes try white wine next to ready meals to help encourage this consumer trend.”

The price is right

Promotional mechanics also have a role to play in ensuring strong sales. Nick notes that wines priced at two for £10 or £12 will often sell well.

Jai agrees that a good deal will also grab customers’ attention at his store. “Customers definitely seek out wines on promotion,” he says. “Two wines for £12 is a good promotional method. We found that by reducing prices on a single bottle people only bought one, whereas this tactic has been a good way of encouraging sales of two bottles at once.”

However, there is plenty of demand for non-promotional wines priced at the £6-8 mark, claims Treasury Wine Estates (TWE). “Many retailers tend to focus on entry-level wines to deliver value for money, but miss out on the huge opportunity presented by shoppers who are willing to pay a bit more for quality,” explains business sector controller Shaun Heyes.

“The latest figures support this, showing that sales of wine within the £6-8 price bracket are growing by 5% year on year in impulse, but make up almost 28% of all wine sales as more consumers choose to treat themselves to a higher-priced wine. Retailers, however, don’t always dedicate enough space or range to wine at this price point.

“At TWE, we have a strong range of top-selling brands, such as Wolf Blass and Lindeman’s, that fit across the £6-8 price band, enabling retailers to offer customers more premium wine brands they can trust.”

By adopting a smart attitude to pricing and ensuring that your offering meets all of this year’s key trends, you can expect sparkling sales of branded wines.

In Brief

Travel vouchers up for grabs

The Lindeman’s Sunshine campaign is back for 2015, comprising a mix of digital, in-store and shopper marketing initiatives. A competition, which runs until the end of August, gives independent retailers the chance to win £1,000-worth of flight vouchers from Trailfinders.

Pricemark power

Treasury Wine Estates is repeating its pricemarking activity this year. Pricemarks are available for brands such as Wolf Blass (Yellow Label Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, £7.99; Red Label Chardonnay Semillon and Shiraz Cabernet, £6.49) and Lindeman’s Bin 65 Chardonnay and Bin 50 Shiraz at £6.99.

Fairtrade wine from South Africa

South African brand Fish Hoek will be Fairtrade-certified from this year, becoming the first of Accolade Wines’ wineries to achieve this status. The Fish Hoek range includes seven single-variety wines (rrp £7.99). Its key wines for the convenience sector are Chenin Blanc and Merlot.

Flag up home-grown wines British wine is a growth market, according to CWF, which says sales of its Straw Hat range are up 78% year on year. Such is the popularity of the brand that two new sizes have been added: 18.7cl and 3ltr Bag in Box variants in each varietal.