Sign Up

Think of visitors as ‘wine tourists’ – not wine consumers

RD&A News | February 2022
28 Feb 2022
Previous  | Next   News

Less than half of all people who visit wineries are motivated to taste and buy wines, new research from Curtin University suggests.

However, the news has a silver lining as it offers an opportunity for wine businesses to re-think their strategy around winery consumers on-premise – and expand their service mix to accommodate their needs to derive greater value.

“Interestingly, while less than 50 per cent of winery visitors are motivated to taste and buy wines, all consumer segments we researched are highly motivated to socialise with family and friends. Therefore, it’s important for wine producers to view visitors as ‘wine tourists’ rather than traditional wine consumers,” chief investigator Ben Thomas from Curtin University said. 

Ben’s research – an Incubator Initiative funded by Wine Australia, which targets a specific regionally identified research issue and supports early career researchers with a small research grant – aimed to develop a better understanding of the different consumer segments that visit wineries, and what service offering mix represented an appropriate value proposition for them. The service mix included wine tastings, on-site restaurants, galleries and gift shops.

Ben used a combination of intercept surveys, visitor tracking analytics and Point of Sale (POS) data at two sites in Margaret River and Swan Valley to identify four wine tourist segments. 

He then profiled the wine consumption habits, visitation motivations and onsite spending behaviour of each of the segments.

“This ultimately identified their financial value to a wine business and answered the question as to whether tiered cellar door offerings maximise value for differing wine tourist segments. The answer to that question is ‘yes'.”

Ben’s research used two key segmentation bases to identify the four wine tourist segments: how important wine is to people and how ‘invested’ they are in the product; and their motivation to taste and buy wine versus their motivation to socialise with family and friends. 

The research found: 

  • 43 per cent of people are highly motivated to taste and buy wines – and have a high wine product involvement
  • 24 per cent have a low-moderate motivation to taste and buy wines – but have a high wine product involvement 
  • 23.5 per cent have a low motivation to taste and buy wines – and moderate wine product involvement
  • nearly 10 per cent have a low motivation to taste and buy wines – coupled with a low wine product involvement, and
  • all four segments have a similar average spend ($114 – $132). As such, there is no specific ‘high value’ tourist segment. It is just a matter that each segment spends in different product categories (i.e. takeaway wine vs fine dining vs casual dining). 

Ben said his research offered a number of opportunities for wine businesses to expand their appeal to consumers.

“If wineries can expand their service offering mix to include food options, for example, it reduces the reliance on the cellar door to drive wine sales through takeaway wine only.

“Importantly, incorporating diverse food options increases direct-to-consumer sales and keeps visitors onsite longer (while drinking wine) – creating a vibrant atmosphere and leading to greater repeat visitation.”

He recommended wine producers charge for wine tastings.

“Not only does charging a fee qualify ‘wine consumers’ among overall ‘wine tourist’ visitors, but it helps to manage capacity, allows staff to provide individual service and increases sales conversions – while having no negative impact on visitors attitude towards the winery.”

Ben said the research suggested that gift shops offered only very limited value – with less than 4 per cent of visitors purchasing – and businesses should consider repurposing these spaces. 

Researcher Ben Thomas.

Ben’s final report offers detailed profiles and strategies for each segment. It can be found here.

“As a note, there was a limitation in the study as data was only collected at wineries that had already invested in developing a multi-pronged hospitality service offering. This may skew the type of wine tourist that the wineries attracted and in turn were the subject of the study,” Ben said.

This content is restricted to wine exporters and levy-payers. Some reports are available for purchase to non-levy payers/exporters.

Levy payers/exporters
Non-levy payers/exporters
Find out more

This content is restricted to wine exporters and levy-payers. Some reports are available for purchase to non-levy payers/exporters.