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A funkier and quirkier 2016 predicted

UK drinks distributor Matthew Clark predicts consumers will be in the market for funkier labelled wine and quirkier grape varieties in 2016, reflecting the increasingly adventurous nature of the UK consumer. Matthew Clark also anticipates that 2016 will see premium lager growing in popularity amongst the Prosecco drinking demographic, with vodka and rum also enjoying increased limelight.

Funky labels
Matthew Clark wine development specialist, Rachel Love foresees an increase in sales of wines with interesting labels and packaging for 2016. She says: “We’re seeing customers attracted to wines with bright colours, eye catching designs, and more playful names, like our recent range additions from Casa Rojo. Not only is the liquid brilliant, but the packaging acts as a real dinner table conversation starter.” Matthew Clark assistant wine buyer Judith Nicholson adds: “We’re seeing labels becoming a key focus for suppliers like the Georg Sandeman’s 2000 vintage special edition ports where the labels feature all the key moments in the house’s history, a great way to make recommendations– consumers love a good story!”. 

As well as interesting label design, customers will also be on the lookout for larger formatted bottles next year. Simon Jerrome, Matthew Clark’s purchasing director says: “Magnums are great for sharing and we’ve seen an increase in demand for larger formats recently, which I predict will continue into 2016.”

Quirky grapes
 This year, customers have been more daring than ever when choosing wine, according to Matthew Clark. The company predicts that this trend will continue into 2016 with an even greater consumer interest in different wines of quirkier variety, such as Gruner Veltliner, Verdejo, Aglianico and Carmenere. Rachel Love, comments: “We expect to see customers moving away from perennial favourites and delving into something a little different, New Zealand Pinot Gris is one to watch!”

Prosecco gets an upgrade
Sparkling wine has been a particularly popular category for the wholesaler this year, driven by growth in demand for Prosecco. Matthew Clark’s wine development specialist, Simon Grayson says: “Prosecco was such a big hit in 2015, and we foresee continued growth, with 2016 witnessing the premiumisation of Prosecco with customers buying ‘blingier’ looking larger formats like Bottega Prosecco’s Gold Magnums”.

Food pairing  
Consumers are increasingly more willing to opt for wine paired menus according to Matthew Clark, and as Rachel Love says: “Food pairing is a trend that is continuing to grow; consumers enjoy learning about what works well with food and also see it as an opportunity to trade up on wines without breaking the bank. Our customers realise that this is the best opportunity to sell more premium wines at a healthy profit; I believe we will continue to see this trend in 2016”.

Beer gains new ground

However, while 2015 may have been the year of Prosecco, Geoff Brown, marketing director at Matthew Clark predicts that next year’s big hit will be beer: “According to YouGov’s recent September statistics, women are drinking less sparkling wine and moving on to premium lagers. In fact, the research shows that more women are drinking beer than Prosecco. I am expecting to see this trend continuing into 2016.”

The beer category has been going from strength to strength with Christmas 2015 seeing Matthew Clark customers revamping their beer offering. Justin Wylde, Matthew Clark’s beer, cider and softs marketing manager comments: “Beer is going to be huge in 2016, it’s been such a talking point this year with people even pairing beers, ales and IPAs with their Christmas menus. Popular pairings were mince pies with Frontier lager, duck pâté and Vedett IPA, and turkey with Big Hub Hibernation White IPA.”

Premium spirits
Premiumisation is a trend that can be expected to continue to define the spirits category in 2016, according to Matthew Clark, with premium vodka and quality rum leading the charge.  Matthew Clark customers are buying an average of four more bottles of vodka per month in comparison to the same time period last year (August – October). “Bond might have something to do with this craze,” says Lauren Guest, Matthew Clark’s insight manager.

Matthew Clark has also saw an increase in rum in the run up to Christmas, driven predominantly by spiced rum with customers buying on average an additional 1.6 bottles of spiced rum in comparison to the same time period last year (August – October).  In response to this Matthew Clark has released its rum portfolio featuring over 70 rums of all styles from all over the world including Mauritius, Venezuela, Guyana, Cuba and Jamaica. 

5 January 2016 - Felicity Murray The Drinks Report, editor