TOPS at SPAR Wine Show best environment for wine exhibitors

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SA’s leading consumer wine expo, the TOPS at SPAR Wine Show kicks off in Johannesburg at a brand new venue, Montecasino from 25th – 27th May. Set to offer wine producers as well as wine show fans more bang for their buck, the show is coming back bigger and better thanks to valuable insight conducted by The Moss Group in 2016.

The TOPS at SPAR Wine Show commissioned the services of The Moss Group, who works with large corporates to integrate sustainability thinking into their strategies and their operations, to investigate consumer behaviour and visitor profiles of wine lovers during two of their 2016 events, namely Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth.

Both events were well attended with record visitor numbers recorded for Port Elizabeth. The research was conducted not only to gain insight into what appeals to wine lovers in order to optimise their show experience, but also to inform the industry of consumer preferences, behaviour and purchasing decisions.

Eight key focus areas were outlined in the research, taking both consumer and exhibitor insights into account. Some of these included consumer profiles, current buying behaviours and wine labelling. By conducting mini workshops and focus groups, survey monkey exhibitor feedback and analysis of wine consumption and sales data it was found that:

• 65% of attendees were female
• The main reason visitors came to the show was to have fun
• 38% of total wine consumed and sold was red wine  
• More than 75% of all Wine Show attendees purchased wine at the event
• 75% of JHB and PE attendees were under 40 years old

The research went further to highlight the characteristics of the two types of wine drinkers identified.

The average wine drinker is someone who finds shopping for wine overwhelming, confusing, and daunting, yet exciting and too much choice is scary. They also buy wine for the moment and do not plan long in advance. They definitely don’t shop online.

Whereas the wine enthusiast shops at supermarkets only if it’s a last minute purchase but usually shops online or directly from the farms. He loves to take his time reading all the information on both the front and back labels and makes long-term purchases in large quantities.  

When considering labels the research found that labels have the ability to make or break a purchase for consumers unfamiliar with the brand or maker. In general consumers want the label to describe the cultivar within the bottle and are attracted to simple sophisticated labels. An interesting finding was that non-traditional or modern labels created the impression that the wine was cheap. Overall the front and back label should tell the brands history, provide tasting notes, possible food pairings, any serving suggestions and cellaring and maturation details.

The size, shape, look and feel of the bottle was evaluated and found to not hugely impact consumers’ decisions. However the following attitudes about the bottle were noted. A rubber or wax seal proved to be a positive eye-catcher. While consumers recognise and enjoy classic bottle shapes, clear bottles made the wine look cheap especially for red wines. A big no-no was long bottles because of its unusual size not allowing it to fit easily in a standard wine rack, as was too many award stickers which was a detraction from the label giving the impression that the brand was desperate.

Show organiser and wine marketing disrupter Andrew Douglas said “We work hard to provide useful insights not only to our key partners and exhibitors, but also the wine industry at large, around what shapes the consumer’s complex decision-making processes when purchasing wine. We have the attitude that the collection and analysis of such information, although arguably proprietary by nature and belonging to ourselves, really needs to be shared with all industry stakeholders on every level to help inform their strategies and plans to market the category in the future”.

The overall outcome of The Moss Group’s research showed that the TOPS at SPAR Wine Show is the ultimate environment for wine producers to exhibit. The opportunity to market to an audience that is both educated and brand loyal, as well as engage with the average wine drinking market still yet to find a brand to identify with was invaluable.  



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