There are six kinds of wine drinkers, reveals Alok Chandra.
With an estimated three million wine brands worldwide (not counting vintages) and anywhere between 50 and 200 wine labels on the average retail shelf /restaurant wine list, it's not surprising that many consumers are confused, even intimidated, by wines.
Some resort to buying by price, others by familiar grape variety and others by country.
In most instances, the default option is to fall back on brands one is familiar with, never mind that there are probably several wines available (at the sale price-point) that are far better in quality.
Little work has been done in researching consumer behaviour and attitudes in India -- maybe the market is still too small, or maybe it is so fragmented and limited to the metro cities that doing meaningful research would not be commercially viable.
The larger wine companies (Sula, Grover, Fratelli) undertake competitive analysis of sales, but don't conduct any consumer research of the type done by the FMCG majors.
However, some years back Constellation Wines US had instituted Project Genome, a 10-year study of habits and attitudes regarding wine, which grouped American wine consumers into six segments: enthusiasts, image seekers, savvy shoppers, traditionalists, satisfied sippers and overwhelmed drinkers.
How would this grouping translate to Indian wine consumers? Let's do a bit of crystal-ball gazing.
People who are passionate and knowledgeable about wine, may have a wine cellar at home, like to bring back wines when travelling overseas, go for reserve wines, are influenced by wine ratings and reviews, appreciate detailed wine tasting notes.
Price is not a concern.
People for whom wine is a status symbol.
They buy and consume wine frequently, and even though they may not know much about wine, use the internet to search for information on wines and labels.
Open to trying new wines and tend to go for more expensive ones.
Bargain-hunters, people who enjoy discovering new wines and tend to buy more bottles if given a good deal.
Nothing excites them more than finding a good-quality wine at a 'decent' price.
Prefer wines by-the-glass on-premise.
Prefer to buy and consume wine brands or known grape varietals from established wineries they are familiar with (should gladden the hearts of Sula) rather than try new brands.
Always play safe and check out the price before buying.
A conservative consumer who doesn't know much about wine so will buy the same brand, preferably an Indian one that's not highly priced (hello Sula, again!).
Someone who is just starting to consume wine, does not know much about the drink, but feels intimidated by the wide choice and doesn't know where to begin.
Gets frustrated by the lack of wine knowledge at retail outlets and restaurants; often does not buy anything.
We all know people in each segment, and of course many do migrate to another slab over time.
The wine journey in India has just begun, and hopefully it will keep developing in the foreseeable future.
Alok Chandra is a Bengaluru-based wine consultant.