May 5, 2017 saw the world celebrate our most famous wine variety.
Think of grocer as in supermarket and rant as in the ending of restaurant – and you will quickly get the idea of what the word means. It is in fact a supermarket that offers not only the normal aisles of produce and products, but also an onsite restaurant serving wine and beer, and providing chef driven meals to take away.
According to research outfit NDP Group, grocerants generated 2.4 billion visits and US$10 billion in sales in 2016. More and more people are attracted to having a meal or coffee or even a glass of wine or beer, while shopping for household commodities. It is not a trend that is expected to disappear any time soon either. David Portalatin, vice president at NDP says “Millennials interest in the benefits and experience supermarket foodservice offers will continue to be strong over the next several years.” He goes on to say that this bodes well for food manufacturers and retailers who have their fingers on the pulse of what drives this generational group.
“Give the Millennials what they want - fresh, healthier fare and a decent price – and they will come.”
Which Michael Walton, of Michael Walton Consulting, says is what New Zealand wine producers should be seriously considering. Imagine going along to do the weekly shop, stopping off for a glass of wine before you hit the aisles, then purchasing that wine instore a few minutes later. How good would that be?
Walton describes grocerants as a niche that is waiting to be tapped by New Zealand wine producers.
“These are growing in interest because; A – it is topical and B – it is a fun concept. We are detecting a change in consumer behaviour and therefore we need to be looking at changing the way of how we go to market.
“The idea of grocery stores being restaurants, and having wine tastings as part of their story when you go shopping, is a lovely idea. What a great way to niche. You could be selling by the glass, you could be experimental.”
That experimental is an important part of the New Zealand wine story going forward, Walton says. Despite our constant aligning of New Zealand wine with Sauvignon Blanc, he says the bulk of Americans don’t know that story. Instead of associating New Zealand with one main variety, they instead think of us as simply New Zealand wine.
“Which means our story can be whatever we want it to be. So it can be a Pinot Gris story. It can be a Pinot Noir story, or even a Chenin Blanc story. There is enough breadth of styles and consumers there for New Zealand wine to find a home in almost any varietal and probably in many different parts of the States as well.”
While he advocates there are some major opportunities in the grocerant sector, Walton is not advocating producers give up on the on-premise market. Especially given wine pours are on the rise, while beer and spirit pours are tracking downwards.
And he also believes producers need to work towards establishing relationships with a strong on-line presence.
“You can defeat the challenge of that disaggregated, discombobulated market where we have 52 states with differing regulations, by picking one or two really great on-line retailers. Nurture them as friends, make sure you are giving them the best product with the best stories. The on-line takes care of a lot of the logistics for you, so it’s a great place to start.”
As for where you should be concentrating your efforts, look for states where wine is already a known and loved product. California or Oregon for example.
“They have wine consumers who would love to expand and love to try new things. We are perfect for them. You know, New Zealanders don’t think of themselves as exotic, but we are pretty exotic when it comes to the wine world.”
New Zealander Caine Thomson, who is now GM of Locations Wines has defined the top markets even more clearly. He says his time working for Dave Phinney in America has shown there are five states New Zealanders should be concentrating on to get the biggest hit. They are in order; California, Texas, Florida, Illinois and New York.
“That is a very definitive order in my mind, a very market based, knowledged approach of what we have seen. That will be the same for New Zealand wine.”