Online Wine Sales Grow, Demonstrating Diversity In Marketplaces

Online wine sales may only account for five percent of total sales internationally, but that is still a six billion dollar figure and represents a six fold increase over the last ten years.

A report unveiled during the first day of Vinexpo, one of the industry’s largest gatherings, showed that although online wine sales account for only five percent of total wine sales, it also marked a tremendous growth in sales in one decade’s time and highlighted the diversity when it comes to the international marketplaces. Researchers also believe that 2015 will be the turning point in online wine sales.

“The online market will no longer be driven by wine-cellars,” commented researcher Gregory Bressolles who headed the study, which was commissioned by the Kedge Business School, located in Bordeaux. The study was first reported by RelaxNews on Yahoo News. “It will no longer depend on them," he said. "It now depends on buyers." The study pointed out that even though online wine sales were only 1/20th of the entire wine market, it still represented six billion dollars in sales.

Ten years ago, that figure stood at barely one billion, and examining the numbers released in the report may show the reason for that growth. The United States is one of the largest wine consumers per capita in the world, thanks in large part to the wines and wineries of California, but online wine sales only accounted for four percent of wine business in the country and only 23 percent of the wine buyers were online. In contrast, China, one of the fastest growing consumer nations, has one fifth of all wine sold there being sold online and online wine buyers accounted for more than 30 percent of total buyers.

That might explain wine Vinexpo has opened a branch office in Hong Kong for this year’s festivities. “The show is a catalyst for international business with 48,000 trade visitors from 150 countries at the Bordeaux show and 18,000 Asian buyers in Hong Kong,” said Vinexpo CEO Guillaume Deglise in a welcome statement, issued on the homepage. Additionally, Conde Nast announced they will also be publishing a high end wine and lifestyle monthly magazine based in Hong Kong and released in both English and Chinese.

Part of what experts believe will continue to drive online wine sales, specifically in the United States, is the growing popularity in wine of the month clubs. With the opportunity to taste wines they have only previously heard about, more domestic wine drinkers will forgo the stores for their wine, even if it is domestic wine they are searching for.

“We choose to represent the central coast region of California not only because we believe so strongly in the wines,” said Jennifer Finnell, one of the owners of the boutique Wine Club World, a monthly club focused on ultra-premium wines. “But also because most emerging wine drinkers were not as interested in European wines as previous generations.”

Finnell believes this change in taste has more to do with just the younger generation rebelling against the older. “There is an opportunity for small batch wineries to get their wines out to people like never before. Before they could only sell in their region. Now they can go anywhere, and people want to be the first to experience them,” she said.

**Jack Terry is a freelance writer who has been involved with the food and beverage industry for more than 20 years.

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