Photo: Ian Routledge / Wine Australia

Latest report shows perceptions of Australian wine are improving

Market Bulletin | Issue 114
Photo: Ian Routledge / Wine Australia
03 Jul 2018
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The brand health of Australian wines has seen marked improvement over the past eight years, particularly in consumer perceptions of quality and value for money.

Every year since 2010, Wine Intelligence has conducted a brand health check, commissioned by Wine Australia, to measure how consumers perceive Australian wine compared with other wine producing nations.

The most recent check occurred in March 2018, focusing on perceptions in Canada (English and French speaking), China (mainland and Hong Kong), the United Kingdom (UK), the United States of America (USA), Singapore, Japan, South Korea and Australia.

These markets vary in the share Australian wine has of consumer’s wine glasses. Interestingly, more people in the USA consume Australian wine than in Australia. While 87 per cent of Australian wine consumers drink Australian wine, this equates to 8.7 million people regularly consuming Australian wine. On the other hand, the 19 per cent of regular imported wine consumers in the USA who drink Australian wine equates to 18.05 million, the largest population of Australian wine drinkers. The next largest population of Australian wine drinkers is in China, with 15.48 million consumers or 30 per cent share of imported wine drinkers, then the UK with 12.58 million consumers, a 44 per cent share of regular wine drinkers.

Photo Courtesy of: 57 Films - Chef Exchange

Quality

Across the nine surveyed markets, quality perceptions of Australian wine remained relatively unchanged over the last year (Figure 1), maintaining the improvements gained over the last eight years in China, the USA, UK and Japan. For Chinese wine drinkers of Australian wine, overall agreement of quality scored a 7.69 out of 10 in 2010, increasing significantly to 8.32 by 2018.

Similarly, in the USA quality perceptions have seen a significant increase from 7.82 in 2010 to 8.14 in 2018. Despite the positive result in the USA, the market continues to be challenging for Australian wine exports; exports fell 5 per cent in volume and 7 per cent in value in the 12 months ending March 2018 compared with the year before. Wine Opinions consumer research commissioned by Wine Australia highlights that USA consumers who spend $20 or more on wine generally have lower quality perceptions of Australian wine due to a bad experience or because they perceive Australian wine is mass-produced. It is thought that these views are reinforced by the limited offering of Australian wines in the US market.

Initiatives such as Australia Decanted (22–26 July 2018) and Aussie Wine Week USA (10–14 September 2018), made possible by the Australian Government’s $50 million Export and Regional Support Package, aim to turn around these perceptions and support the growth of Australian wine exports.

With better access to and availability of the whole gamut of Australian wines, it is no surprise that Australians rate the quality of our wines very highly.

Figure 1: Quality perceptions of Australian wines

Source: Wine Intelligence

Base = Drinkers of Australian wine in each of the following markets. Notes: tracking based on quality mean score.

Photo: Ewen Bell / Wine Australia

Value for money versus luxury and tradition

All surveyed markets strongly associated Australian wine as good value for money and almost all attributed Australian wine as being food friendly; this has been consistent over the long term.

However, in contrast, many did not consider Australian wines as offering expensive/fine wines, wine for special occasions or wines produced from a long tradition of winemaking. Markets with the weakest associations for these three attributes were South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong.

Australian wine consumers from the USA and French-speaking Canada did have a stronger association with Australian wines for special occasions, but perceptions were still low for expensive/fine wines; in these markets French and Italian wines dominate. For example, in the USA, 46 per cent of Australian wine consumers overall agreed (‘agree’ and ‘strongly agree’) that Australia has expensive/fines wines. However, French and Italian wines were more strongly associated with this offering at 92 per cent and 87 per cent respectively.

Research findings from the Wine Australia-funded project ‘Advance Australia Fair’ provides further insight, noting that how consumers perceive Australia as a country and Australian people generally influences their confidence in our capacity and skills where the production of fine wine is concerned. Australia’s country image in the USA is that we are friendly, cheerful and laid back, while France is perceived to be snobbish, rude and arrogant. These perceptions have both a positive and negative effect on associations with a country offering fine wine.

Note: Percentage who 'agree' or strongly 'agree'

Photo: Kimberley Low / Wine Australia

Brand recognition and recommendation

The consumers most proud to serve Australian wine were Australians (91 per cent) and mainland Chinese (88 per cent). The least proud were from Hong Kong (45 per cent), then South Korea (51 per cent), where consumers also scored Australian wines the lowest for quality.

These results demonstrate a relationship between ‘being proud to serve’ and ‘being happy to recommend’. When it comes to brand recognition, nearly all the export markets indicated that the majority of respondents recognised Australian wine brands.

Note: Percentage who 'agree' or strongly 'agree'

Photo: Andre Castelluci

Clean and green, varieties and regions

Consumers in mainland China (86 per cent), South Korea (72 per cent) and Singapore (65 per cent) strongly associated Australia with wines produced in a sustainable way and wines made in a way that is clean and green. Nearly all of the markets assessed liked the grape varieties produced in Australia, with the lowest result from Japanese drinkers of Australian wine at 58 per cent.

Recognition of Australian wine regions was lower in most markets this year, except for Australia (91 per cent), mainland China (88 per cent) and Singapore (74 per cent).

Note: Percentage who 'agree' or strongly 'agree'

Associations with Australian wine summarised by market grouping

Source: Wine Intelligence

All in all, the brand health of Australian wines is performing well in most of the markets assessed, with an average of three out of four respondents happy to recommend our wines. Opportunities exist to promote our sustainable practices, capitalise on our grape varieties and improve perceptions around our premium offer.

In addition to the regular brand health tracking from Wine Intelligence, Wine Australia has commissioned various research projects on consumer preference and perceptions that are worth checking out. These include the Context and Wine Composition Effects on Australian wine consumer Mood and Liking and the China Wine Barometer. There are also two projects currently underway with results expected in late 2018 Creating Opportunity for Australian ‘Fine’ Wine in China and Driving the Strategic Growth of Australian Wines in the US Export Market.

Note on the report method

The data for this study was collected in July 2010, March 2015, March 2016, March 2017 and March 2018 and the data was gathered through Wine Intelligence’s Vinitrac online survey. Respondents were screened to ensure that they drink wine at least once per month; drink red, white or rosé wine; and buy wine in the off-premise and/or in the on-premise. Samples sizes for each market are: Australia n=1,000; English speaking Canada n=748; French speaking Canada n=252; China n=1,000; Hong Kong n=600; Japan n=1,000; Singapore n=600; South Korea n=1,000; United Kingdom n=1,000; United States n=2,000.