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Upselling Millennials one glass of wine at a time

Food & Wine

Selling wines by the glass in restaurants is an effective way of tempting Millennials to try new and more expensive wines, research has found.

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The University of South Australia’s Ehrenberg-Bass Institute researchers Professor Johan Bruwer and Dr Justin Cohen examined risk perceptions among Australian wine consumers and found customers were more inclined to try new and more expensive wines if offered wine-by-the-glass in a restaurant.

The researchers also found that the majority of wine-by-the-glass consumers were female (58%), with the majority in the younger millennial generation of 18-34 years old (52%), most of whom had a post-secondary education (74%), and an above national median household income (+ AU$84K per annum).

“Wines by-the-glass have been on restaurant menus for some time, but restaurateurs have been hesitant to fully embrace them as they think they’ll cannibalise full bottle sales and restrict profits,” Professor Bruwer said.

“As a result, restaurants generally limit their wine-by-the-glass options to low-cost, fast-selling brands.

“Our research shows that the opposite is true: customers who buy wines-by-the-glass tend to choose different wines to those they’d select by the bottle and this opens an untapped market that restaurants can leverage and capitalise.”

Professor Bruwer said people were keen to try different wines but could become anxious about investing in an entire bottle they didn’t know. He said the availability of single-serve-wines helped to overcome this anxiety and encouraged customers to be more adventurous with their choices.

“Wines-by-the-glass appeal to the young working generation, mostly comprising Millennials, but also including slightly older people, up to 45 years. But the primary target should be Millennials; they’re constantly looking for new information, are curious about trying new things, and tend to have the disposable income to afford more expensive wines,” Professor Bruwer said.

Increasing the availability of wines-by-the-glass in restaurants could revolutionise Australia’s $8.7 billion wine industry, revitalising wine sales and creating new opportunities for premium and boutique wines, Professor Bruwer said.

He said engaging this market would require restaurants to invest in educating staff about wine and food pairings, as well as providing detailed descriptions of wines-by-the-glass on menus.

“Building the semi-sommelier knowledge of restaurant staff and creating wine-by-the-glass experiences that pique the interest of consumers are strategies that restaurants can deploy to maximise single-serve opportunities.

“Wine goes hand-in hand with the restaurant experience. It can add to reputation, create higher margins, incremental sales and increased customer benefits.”

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