Who Buys Canned Wine
Not surprising, Millennials make up the highest consumer base for canned wines, but Gen Xers are embracing the category as well. What is surprising is canned wines are appealing to wine lovers of all levels, and beer drinkers too. Underwood’s consumer ranges from novice to oenophile to beer lover who seeks a portable way to bring wine outdoors or on the go, but also for those who want to a glass without committing to a bottle, 375 milliliters equates roughly to 2.5 glasses of wine.
Sans Wine Company is seeing consumers 45 years and older embracing their wines, due in part to “canned wines being available in almost every retail outlet and coverage by major wine publications gives the sector credibility,” shares Schober, forecasting “the movement as similar to screw-caps 15 years ago.”
Canned Oregon sales indicate active, social fine wine drinkers of all ages are embracing their wines. Additionally, they shares cocktail recipes on their web site as another way to have fun with the wines. “Cocktails aren’t something we would promote with our fine wines, but we know consumers are already making wine-based cocktails, so we embrace it with these fun wines,” explains Mortensen.
Sway credits their growing sales with size and portability. Like others, they experience customers enjoying a can at home with dinner instead of opening a bottle of wine.
Although the future of this category is bright, it is marred by legislative uncertainty. Mike Veseth, The Wine Economist, notes the practicalities of this growing segment, “Some consumers see the conventional 750 milliliter bottles as too big a commitment, it’s not a surprise premium box and cans are growing quickly.” As younger consumers seek to include alcohol into their lifestyles Veseth recognizes the benefits of options, “With cans there is no need for everyone to share the same beverage—some can enjoy red, others white, or a beer, cider, spritzer, etc. Plus, the smaller size fits with the lower alcohol lifestyle, and are more efficiently recycled in some areas.”
The future uncertainty comes via the Federal Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) size restrictions. Beer and malt beverages have no restrictions as to the size of the container or individual sales. Canned wine, however, is currently restricted to either 187ml, 250ml, 375ml, or 500ml cans, with 187ml and 250ml only sold in multiples. Texas Tech University’s Texas Wine Marketing Research Institute published in its report, “Growth Of The Wine-In-A-Can Market,” a consumer desire for 187ml and 250ml to be available in single-serving cans. The TTB is considering revising its “Standards of Fill” code to expand canned wine size options. This will benefit consumers, likely increase sales, and lead to more headaches and paper work for producers.
Veseth recognizes two important advantages to the 250ml size can—“It is closer to a single serving size, and they are roughly equivalent to craft beer in cans in terms of alcohol percentage,” adding, “Since wine has a higher alcohol percentage, it needs a smaller container to have equivalent alcohol.” Studies indicate younger consumers are sensitive to alcohol percentages, if smaller cans of wine are approved for individual purchase by the TTB the strength of this category will continue to grow.
As for me, I am a canned wine convert. Of course, quality matters so I will proceed with caution, heeding what Brundrett shares regarding Sway, “We’re competing with wines made from concentrate, with added sugar, and spritzers with added ever clear and flavoring.” While I will do my diligence to insure quality, there is a place for canned wine in my active lifestyle and at my table.