While wine writers are touting prosecco as “the sparkling wine of choice for Australian fizz drinkers” a study has found that 25% of Australian wine consumers are unfamiliar with the style.
The Australian prosecco industry is currently worth around $60million a year, with Tony Battaglene, chief executive of industry group Australian Grape and Wine, expecting that number to triple in the next five years.
“We think it could be a $200 million industry within five years … some people are investing $10 million in bottling plants,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald earlier this year.
However, a study published in the journal Beverages, via an online survey of 1927 regular sparkling wine consumers, has found awareness of prosecco is low.
The researchers concluded: “While Italian sparkling wines have enjoyed considerable international growth in recent years, most of the Australian consumers surveyed did not consume it regularly.
“In fact, almost 25% of consumers were unfamiliar with the style, suggesting Australian wine producers might benefit from further marketing this style.”
The research was funded by Wine Australia and investigated the perceptions and preferences of Australian wine consumers towards different styles of sparkling wine, including Champagne and Australian sparkling white, red and rosé wine, moscato and prosecco.
Consumers were segmented into three distinct clusters – ‘No Frills’, ‘Aspirants’ and ‘Enthusiasts’.
The majority of No Frills consumers were female and typically consumed sparkling wine once per month.
Almost 55% of Aspirants were male with a household income of more than $75,000.
Enthusiast consumers were also predominantly male and well educated, and 64% were under the age of 35 years.
Sparkling white wine and Champagne were generally the preferred styles for each consumer group, followed by moscato and sparkling rosé wine.
Price plays a vital role
For all considered wine styles, there was a significant association between the consumer segments and the price they were willing to pay.
The No Frills consumers rarely paid more than $30 per bottle for Australian sparkling wine.
When considering prosecco, moscato, sparkling rosé and sparkling red wine, at least 40% of the collective cohort did not purchase these styles.
The majority of purchases made by Aspirants and Enthusiasts were under $50 and approximately 60% of each of these groups did not purchase prosecco.
The data showed that No Frills consumers are most likely to purchase sparkling white wine at $15–$29 and never purchase sparkling red wine or prosecco.
Aspirants typically purchase sparkling white wine priced between $15 and $29 and most never purchase prosecco. At least 30% purchase Champagne, sparkling red, sparkling rosé and Moscato at retail prices between $15 and $29.
Only 1% of Enthusiasts did not purchase Champagne and all consumer segments were willing to pay more for Champagne than any other style of sparkling wine.
On average, the majority of respondents did not pay more than $50 per bottle for Australian sparkling wine.
The researchers hope the findings from the study can be used by sparkling wine producers to better target their products and marketing to the specific needs and expectations of consumers within different segments of the Australian domestic market.