I was recently reviewing the 2014 Direct-to-Consumer Wine Shipping Report and felt there were components that pointed to some interesting conclusions. This is a quick recap, with the addition of a few personal observations and opinions of my own.
DtC sales activity is pointing to continuing strong growth and tremendous opportunity within the wine industry. Wineries failing to have some kind of DtC strategy will be leaving big dollars on the table.
Information was excerpted, revised and included in this post as taken from the Ship Compliant and Wines & Vines DtC Shipping Report for 2014. The report was much more extensive. To review the entire document please download at: http://info.shipcompliant.com/2014-direct-wine-shipping-report/. The contributors to the original report are acknowledged below.
Direct-to-Consumer Wine Sales Growing in Unexpected Ways
The largest growth in DtC shipments in 2013 came in the $15/btl and under category. While this sales channel has historically been the venue for ultra-premium wines at much higher prices, it appears the greatest future growth may come from lower price categories. This will put a whole new spin on marketing and channel strategy for the larger wineries and broaden the DtC market.
Quarterly Cycles Defining Volume Expectations
The 4th quarter typically represents a disproportionately large share of annual sales, but the trend worth noting here is the first quarter continuing to lose sales volume. A continuing pattern for four years in a row. Business planning and expense control in this kind of environment will be a challenge.
Large Wineries Beginning to Build Market Share in DtC
Large wineries (over 500K cases) have had a 76% increase in volume shipped DtC since 2010, including a 26% increase in 2013 alone. These huge wineries are beginning to develop the DtC channel as a more important vehicle for delivering product. A key factor to note: these wineries are driving an average per bottle price of only $27.12, well below the national DtC average. This is another indicator that the breadth of the DtC channel is growing.
Lower Cost Whites Showing Their Muscle
With 21% growth in volume in 2013 (against average growth rate of 9.9%), the $15 and under price category represents 19% of all wines shipped DtC. The under $15 category is being dominated by lower cost white wines. This may reflect consumers’ increasing comfort with acquiring lower cost wines through the direct ship channel.
Can DtC Demand for Ultra-Premium Wines Influence Retail Wine Sales Strategies?
While only 2.8% of total volume of shipments in 2013, the $100-149 price category has experienced 60% growth in volume since 2010. These figures should justify wineries adding the overhead to offer premium services for an elite clientele. Perhaps formally trained staff will find their way into tasting rooms.
Napa Dominates All and California Commands Premium Pricing
Napa Valley ships over 73% of all the Cabernet through the DtC channel at an average price per bottle of $81! The average bottle price of a California wine shipped DtC is $40, while non-California wine is only $25. Clearly, California has defined their value message and the State has become its own brand to the average wine consumer.
Sonoma County ROCKS the DtC Channel in 2013!
Sonoma County wineries increased their shipments to consumers by 25% in 2013. This huge increase in volume came at a cost. The average price of a bottle of Sonoma wine dropped by 6% last year. This could impact profits for smaller individual wineries, but for the bigger Sonoma County picture, bodes well for consumer perception of the wines. Personally, I believe there are great values in Sonoma County. These figures emphasize that fact.
Consumers Discovering Oregon
Oregon saw the largest increase in total shipments at 21% and showed positive growth in average price per bottle. Good news for cool climate Syrah lovers…. After a 100% increase in Syrah shipped in 2012, volume increased another 29% in 2013… with an average price per bottle increase of 59%!
Zinfandel Losing Its Audience?
Zinfandel represents a full 8% of shipments from outside Napa and Sonoma. This varietal saw a 23% decrease in volume in 2013, on just under a 5% increase per bottle. Interesting that Zinfandel drinkers would react so drastically to such a small relative increase. This may indicate where consumer perception positions Zinfandel in the bigger red wine value spectrum.
DtC Overall Growth Projections Point to Big Opportunity
Based on recent historical data, 7.5% growth per year in the DtC shipping channel over the next decade is not overly optimistic. If this growth in sales occurs, direct shippers will see a 107% increase to over $3.2 Billion by 2023!
Ship Compliant and Wines & Vines Report Contributors Jeff Carroll, Ship Compliant – Pawel Smolarkiewicz, Ship Compliant – Ben Olsgard, Ship Compliant – Lynne Skinner, Wines & Vines