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What Do Women Want, Wine-Wise?

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So, just what is it about women and wine? Researchers have discovered that women do buy most of the wine consumed in a household, usually while shopping for food at the supermarket. Yet what is it that women really think about wine? Do they think it sexy? Fashionable? Healthy?

Marketers want to know.

On April 21, the executives behind VinExpo (the global wine conference held in Bordeaux every two years) came to New York to discuss the results of the Women and Wine study conducted in five countries around the world (including the US) in partnership with Wine Spectator.

The program began with Xavier de Eizaguirre, Chairman of Vinexpo, and Robert Beynat, Chief Executive of Vinexpo, speaking about the types of questions the survey asked the women, and how women in the various countries responded. After their presentation panelists, including noted Bordeaux scholar Robin Kelley O’Connor (also Director of Sales and Education at Sherry Lehman), Wine Spectator online editor Dana Nigro, and Constance Savage, Director of Supplier Relations at Kobrand Corporation, led a discussion on the findings of the survey.

Before I reveal the results of the survey, try to guess the answers:

1. Do women prefer to drink white wine or red wine?

2. Do women or men buy most of the wine for their households?

3. Do women drink wine because it is fashionable or because they like the taste?

4. Do women buy wine for fashionable packaging, or because they have read about it?

5. Do women prefer to buy new wines or buy one they have had before?

Now let’s crush the stereotypes. We’ve all read the old clunker about a woman walking into a bar and ordering a chardonnay, yet according to the survey women do prefer red wine. Marketers were relieved to find that women buy wine because they like the taste and it goes well with food, as opposed to making a “fashion statement” by drinking it. Fashions, marketers say, go out of fashion – taste stays. Women claimed (at least in the survey) packaging does not influence them, and the majority of women preferred to buy a new wine.

So, what does this survey tell us? More important, what does it tell winemakers? The survey underscores that when faced with a limited promotional budget, it is crucial to spend resources getting to understand the female audience and how they like wine to be marketed to them. Seducing women with wine at the supermarket or in a wine store is crucial. As women already see wine as part of a healthy diet – and as a complement to food – it would be wise for marketers to work with supermarket caterers to create cross-promotional branding.

Nothing in the presentation surprised me as being “new news” though I’m sure there are women who would feel uncomfortable going into a wine shop to buy a bottle of wine. And yes, I was a bit surprised by the response that women preferred red wine. All in all, the survey brought to light the necessity of marketing specifically to women if the trade is to survive in the future.


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