Market analysts are categorical that global wine consumption is currently being fuelled by sparkling wines.
While France has succeeded in capitalising on this trend, its industry is now intent on ensuring a sustainable future for its sparkling wines, both in the international market and in France, by taking advantage of new consumption patterns.
New markets to conquer
In 2017, French sparkling wine exports across the categories totalled more than 20 million cases*, equivalent to 13% of total export volumes - a figure that soars to 35% by value. These impressive achievements reflect, among other things, the surge in global sparkling wine consumption, which jumped by 23% between 2009 and 2016**. In France, the home of quality sparkling wines, Champagnes and other sparkling appellations have cornered an enviable share of the market due to their high-end positioning and extensive range. Mostly produced in the northern part of the country, they are the preferred choice for appetisers (59%) and celebrations (36%, rising to 44% for Champagne)***. Their consumption is relatively seasonal: one in five bottles of appellation sparkling wines, rising to one in four for Champagne, is purchased around Christmas and the New Year. The French sparkling wine market also has regional variations: although people living in and around Paris buy smaller quantities (7.6 bottles/year) than other French regions (9.8), their spend is higher at €87 a year compared with €76 elsewhere. Champagne is ubiquitous in the Paris region, accounting for more than one in two sparkling wine purchases, compared to 30% in other parts of the country, hence the difference in spend. Similarly, specialist outlets play a more prominent role with 19% of purchases compared to 11% for France as a whole.
The ‘omni’ trend is opening up new avenues
The emergence of new consumption patterns and distribution channels offers good prospects for the development of sparkling wines. Aperitif-time has become extremely popular, broadening the scope for savouring sparkling wines, while the cocktail trend is offering multiple opportunities to include them. Consumption can now be described as ‘omni’ with sales channels and drinking occasions intersecting, tearing up the rule books and opening up a wealth of new possibilities in terms of product styles and drinking patterns. The new-found popularity of brunch, for example, allows consumers to break with convention and choose sparkling as their go-to wine for a meal that does not slot into any pre-defined category. Similarly, the hyper-connected world of young consumers promotes discovery and the transformation of product styles, and brings consumers closer to their creators, whilst at the same time implying a rethink and diversification of distribution channels. Exploration, sharing and experimentation are key words for a new generation of consumers, who are just waiting for industry players to accompany them on their journey. All these new avenues must be explored to ensure that both outlets and the culture of sparkling wines can move ahead, towards a sustainable future.
**Source Agrex Consulting