Study Identifies Wine Consumer Personalities

Constellation Brands unveils new version of Project Genome, naming six consumer segments

by Jim Gordon
The different types of wine consumers as categorized by Constellation Brands.

San Rafael, Calif.Constellation Brands today rolled out the new and improved version of its long-running Project Genome study that personifies wine consumer groups using demographic segments. In this third phase of the 10-year-old study, the giant publicly traded wine and spirits company found wide extremes in consumer attitudes toward wine, and created three new segments of consumer to help all tiers of the wine trade better understand their customers.

Project Genome documents that while the subject of wine has become more complex, some consumers now feel more confident and better educated, according to Indira Augustin, director of consumer strategic insights for Constellation. “It’s interesting that there seem to be two things at odds,” she told Wines & Vines. “On the one hand, people told our researchers that wine has become more complex and even overwhelming, but on the flip side, consumers have a lot more knowledge at their finger tips, and Millennials have grown up with some knowledge, so it’s already a part of their lives.”

Project Genome, The Evolution of the Wine Consumer, identified three new segments of wine drinkers based on purchase behavior, preferences and taste profiles: Engaged Newcomers, Everyday Loyals and Price Driven consumers. These groups comprise more than half of the wine drinking public in the United States and Canada, and will have a significant influence on the future direction of the industry, according to Augustin and Dale Stratton, VP of strategic insights for Constellation.

To Stratton, the most interesting finding is about the Enthusiast segment that accounts for only 10% of consumers but 15% of profits, and for whom wine represents 40% of their alcohol consumption. The study characterizes Enthusiasts as thinking: “I love everything about the wine experience. I love researching purchases, reading reviews, shipping, discussing, drinking, sharing with others.”

“They are not only a wine enthusiast, they are a beverage alcohol enthusiast,” he said. “Wine is very much a part of their lifestyle, and it’s the same thing on the spirits side. They can tell you how gin is made, why the four areas of scotch production differ in taste and they know a lot about craft beer, too.”

Closer look at luxury
Consumers of luxury wine were studied more closely this time than in the last rendition of Project Genome, Augustin and Stratton said. While the earlier studies in 2004, 2007 and 2008 chose to look mostly at consumption of wines from $5-$20, this time a bigger sample size was chosen for consumers drinking wines priced higher than $20. The three segments impacting this price range most are Image Seekers, Engaged Newcomers and Enthusiasts.

Stratton said that Constellation Brands believes that understanding the entire landscape of wine consumers and what motivates them will help the wine business in general better meet consumer expectations.

“As one of the largest consumer research projects ever conducted by the wine industry, Project Genome provides industry-leading research to improve the overall buying experience for today’s increasingly savvy wine drinkers.” Stratton said. “By understanding the six distinct types of wine drinkers we identified in this study, we help our retail and distributor partners more effectively reach consumers, build education and help wine drinkers by providing recommendations and developing products that meet their preferences, palates and price point.”

How wineries can use it
Stratton told Wines & Vines that any winery can use the segments to communicate better with the other tiers of the business. “We all know a broad swath of people in the industry. Wineries can take that one infographic, and start to put all their brands and products into those categories and examine them. They might decide if they want to change their packages to suit a segment. Everyone can go to their sales force, their restaurateurs and retailers and have a conversation around these segments.

“Information is a very, very democratic thing,” Stratton continued. “That which you do with it is a very different thing. We saw a benefit with Project Genome from the first edition in getting that vernacular into the industry, and getting people on the same page.”

For an overview of Project Genome, visit: http://brandcenter.cbrands.com/SearchList/index.html?item=CA-ECM2150403

For an overview on the six consumer segments, visit: http://www.brandcenter.cbrands.com/SearchList/index.html?item=CA-ECM2150120

The study, conducted by Northstar Research Partners based in Toronto, included more than 100 questions asked to 4,000 U.S. consumers and 2,946 Canadian consumers who purchase and consume wine at least once every three months. Interviews were conducted in November and December 2012 in the U.S. and Canada, and in February and March 2013 in Quebec.


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