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Shoppers choose wine by colour

Scared shoppers choose wine by colour before special offers or price. But only 3% choose the brand first, and grape variety is more important than country of origin.

New research has revealed 47% of British adults who buy wine for themselves or others in supermarkets or off-licences say the first thing they decide upon is colour.

The research published by the Wilson Drinks Report (WDR) also finds 18% choose special offers on wine first, 13% choose the retail selling price, 9% decide on grape variety, 6% choose country of origin whilst only 3% choose the brand of the wine.


The consumer research carried out by YouGov for the Wilson Drinks Report also shows that 71% of British adults buy wine for themselves or others in a supermarket or off licence, a significant majority of the population.
• But how do shoppers decide what to buy?
• Have the big retailers got their displays right?
• Isn’t everything driven by price in these times of austerity?

Tim Wilson, managing director of the Wilson Drinks Report commented: “This research is very interesting as it clearly shows that the very first thing the average British wine shopper decides upon when choosing wine is colour.

Supermarkets and off-licences that mainly display their wines by colour are doing the right thing, according to our analysis. However, what is also very interesting is that grape variety is more important in shoppers’ decision making than either country of origin or brand.

Few retailers display their wines specifically by colour and then grape variety, although some are now trialling wine style and food matching to encourage shoppers to buy better wines.”

The analysis by WDR shows 3 levels of decision making. 


Of the 47% of shoppers that choose colour first, 27% say that they then choose grape variety and the same proportion (27%) say that offers, including discounts, is their second decision after colour.

Wilson also noted: “Many shoppers are simply scared when they stand in front of big wine displays and lack the confidence to make informed choices. Their decision making can be very basic and retailers risk losing out on higher value sales when shoppers simply choose wine by colour and then see what is on special offer or at a certain price point.
Some shoppers, however, rely on a little knowledge to start their decision making and often use pairings of grape and country of origin to shape their choice; for example red → merlot → Chile or white → sauvignon blanc → New Zealand.”

The research does not provide good news for wine brand managers. Only 2% of supermarket or off license wine shoppers who mostly drink red wine choose brand first when deciding which wine to buy. It is a similar story for those shoppers who mostly drink white wine: only 3% choose brand first when buying wine.

The new research is contained in the fifth edition of the Wilson Drinks Report, an independent review of the key issues affecting the UK drinks industry.


The Wilson Drinks Report (WDR) is a research-based business report focused on the key issues in the world of UK drinks.


1 February 2011 - Felicity Murray