In the new atmosphere of pragmatism and environmental awareness in Australia, awareness of alternative wine formats, including cans and barrels, is increasing. Why don’t they buy more people?

Time to think about the wine packaging format. In a wine category dominated by the ubiquitous 75cl bottles, alternative formats such as barrels (wine cans) have established a special position among Australian drinkers looking for value for money. In addition, the recent appearance of canned wines on the market is mainly due to relatively random moments in the life of the consumer.

The arrival of Covid in 2020 has helped both forms become mainstream, but for different reasons. Barrels provide an easy way for shoppers with limited shopping time to store, while cans theoretically offer portion control and long shelf life in the fridge or freezer. Our recent research into the format of wine packaging on the Australian market shows that there is a significant increase in awareness among Australian wine consumers about the two types of alternative packaging.

However, this increased awareness does not necessarily translate to higher levels of spending. Canned wine awareness has increased significantly over the past three years, but the rate of transition to shopping from canned wine connoisseurs has actually declined over the same period, which means that today’s increased awareness does not mean buying at the same rate. Retail experts predict there will be opportunities for smaller formats to support the move towards moderating alcohol and consumer demand for a single service to increase product choice.

Barrels continue to perform well in the Australian market and are clearly drawing attention to the smaller barrels from 2017. Barrels of all sizes, however, are primarily associated with value for money and low-quality wines – a legacy they haven’t transferred yet. The main obstacle to purchasing alternative packaging formats is the general and longstanding preference for standard glass bottles, which is even more dominant in Australia than in other comparable established markets. The smaller format bottles continued to offer relatively low value for money, while the Magnum was considered less practical and portable.

The types of consumers in Australia looking to alternative wine formats are much more familiar with older Boomer users – but this isn’t necessarily the right audience. In fact, when it comes to canned wines, awareness is significantly higher among the 40 to 55 year olds compared to younger Generation Z and Millennial consumers. Although they are usually poorly informed about alternative wine packaging formats, younger drinkers are more likely to purchase this format once they understand the options available.

Read more about canned wine awareness, buying, and buying here: Expand your canned wine opportunities in markets other than Canada

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