Champagne and sparkling wine sales have surged in Australia during COVID-19, as consumers treat themselves to affordable luxuries.
IRI reports that the total Sparkling category, inclusive of Champagne, has experienced nearly 5% value growth for the last 12 months, with growth accelerating greatly in the last few months. For the quarter ending May 31, the category has seen 9.4% growth compared to last year.
Champagne is driving growth, with value up more than 13% for the quarter compared to last year. Sparkling, which accounts for 66.5% of the segment, is also seeing growth, up 2%.
However, it’s pink bubbles that are celebrating the biggest boom, with the segment growing three times faster than total sparkling wine for the year and more than four times faster for the quarter – an amazing result considering the strength of sparkling wine overall in the last year.
According to IRI, Rosé Champagne is the key driver of growth, up more than 25% in value for the year and more than 75% for the quarter (Rosé accounts for 5% of the overall Champagne sub-segment).
However, Rosé Sparkling is also outperforming the rest of the sparkling wine segment, with value growing five times faster than sparkling sub-segment (excluding Champagne) – this has resulted in nearly $11 in every $100 allocated to Sparkling now being spent on a rosé varietal, up $2 in two years.
Huge turnaround for bubbles market
It’s a vastly different scenario to 12 months ago, when it was revealed Champagne sales had dipped in Australia.
John Noble at the Champagne Bureau, which represents the Comité in Australia, told The Australian that a softer economy was hurting sales.
“In line with our economy, [volume] is down 1.8% in total bottles, and the value is a bit down as well — it’s a difference of 150,000 bottles’’ he said.
According to the Comité’s report, some of the reasons for the decline were unfavourable exchange rates, falling housing prices and the slowdown in the Chinese economy, which had a negative impact on the Australian market.
That slowdown continued into 2020, with Endeavour Group revealing in February that its Champagne sales were “subdued”.
However, the COVID-19 shutdown has turned around the fortunes of bubbly. The trend accelerated on Mother’s Day, which was the first weekend of restrictions being partially lifted in many states.
IRI has speculated that this was due to large percentages of the population catching up with family for the first time in weeks, if not months, while restaurants and bars were still closed. As such, on-premise events were probably replaced with lunch and Champagne at home with mum or grandma.
Australians continued to purchase Sparkling as May progressed, in particular premium Sparkling and Champagne, at higher than average rates.
Value is outgrowing litres, due to shoppers trading up to more premium products. IRI said there has also been an increase in the percentage of product being purchased on promotion in the premium and super premium tiers.
The brands driving Sparkling Rosé growth
Moet & Chandon Imperial Rosé & Canard Duchene Brut Rose NV have been the key contributors of Rosé Champagne growth, accounting for 50c of every additional dollar spent on the segment in the last 12 months.
Chandon Rosé had a particularly strong performance over Mother’s Day. However, Bollinger Rosé and Taittinger Cuvee Rosé also saw significant growth – both performed more than eight faster than the segment in the latest quarter.
When it comes to sparkling rosé, two products are contributing almost 85% of annual segment growth (dollar/value sales): Bird In Hand Sparkling Pinot Noir and Grant Burge Sparkling Pinot Rose, which was only launched in November 2019.
“Sparkling Rosé is growing at 25.4% value and is one of the strongest growth segments within sparkling wine, alongside Prosecco,” noted Andrew Clarke, Managing Director ANZP, in the latest issue of Drinks Guide.
“Grant Burge Rosé has been one of the strongest sparkling rosé launches within the Australian market, showing the second highest level growth for any brand within the segment.”
Global Champagne sales plummet
It’s a very different story globally for Champagne – after record turnover last year, sales are down about $2 billion in 2020.
COVID-19 has brought social events to a halt, removing a huge number of occasions that people were drinking bubbles.
The Champagne Committee (CIVC) Communications Director Thibaut Le Mailloux said he believes that about 100 million bottles will go unsold.
“We are experiencing a crisis that we evaluate to be even worse than the Great Depression,” he said.
Champagne houses are looking at taking a different marketing approach to Champagne, encouraging consumers to celebrate the “little things”.