Less is more: why wine in smaller packages is the next big thing

wine in smaller packages is the next big thing

There’s a growing trend in the world of wine that many wine producers have been slow to catch up to. It doesn’t have anything to do with grapes, blends or finishes. It has to do with size. Consumers increasingly prefer smaller wine portions, particularly millennials and people in emerging markets, making it something of a mini-revolution.

The 750ml bottle has been the staple of wine packaging for centuries. For previous generations, this standard size was not only conducive to production efficiency, it also met the demands of consumers. They tended to have larger families, be less worried about health, and drink more wine on a daily basis. Market analysis, however, shows this trend is changing – fast.

“One reason behind this change is that households are getting smaller, with fewer people and less space for storage,” says Libby Costin, Marketing Vice-President at Tetra Pak, who has been keeping a close eye on developments. Single person households will grow faster than any other household demographic globally between 2016-2030, according to Euromonitor International. The largest group with single households are younger consumers, but this is also becoming more common with seniors.

“Consumers are also becoming more concerned about the environment, food waste and resource depletion,” says Costin. “We’re becoming more health-conscious and quality-conscious. At the same time, we want the products we buy to be affordable, easy to carry and easy to consume.”

Traditional packaging doesn’t always meet these modern consumer needs, and wine packaging has been no exception. Until now. Enter the ‘mini-revolution’ – the growing global demand for wine in smaller, more portable and more convenient packaging. “The trend for wine in smaller portions has a staying power across geographies,” Costin says. “Still wine in portion packs, in the 0-600 ml range, has a forecasted 4.9 percent compound annual growth rate, between 2015 and 2018. That’s faster than the growth for the total still wine category, which has a 1.8 percent CAGR during the same period.”

Emerging markets are also driving the change for smaller packages. China alone currently represents 71 percent of global still wine consumed in portion packs. Wine consumption in many emerging markets is only starting to take hold, where people are not constrained by traditional packaging customs. In addition, single households in emerging markets have almost doubled from 2000-2015, according to Euromonitor.

But even in developed markets with long traditions of wine consumption, patterns are changing drastically. One of the biggest contributors to this are millennials. “We see open-minded millennials, people who are of legal drinking age up to 34 years old, as the key demographic group reshaping wine drinking habits,” says Costin. “Being more health-conscious, they are certainly open to smaller packaging sizes that can help them enjoy wine in moderation. But there’s more to it than that. Millennials are actively looking for new experiences. When it comes to wine specifically, they are less tied to tradition.”

Smaller packs allow consumers to experiment with new flavours, without risking too much if they don’t like it, Costin says. “People like having the freedom to choose,” she says. “Instead of putting one or two kinds of wine on the table at a dinner party, they can now offer several different choices to their guests in individual sized packages. If someone wants one more glass of wine, instead of opening a whole new bottle they can just open a smaller package.”

Millennials and emerging markets certainly contribute to this trend, but they’re not alone. Around the world, eating and drinking behaviours are changing to happen more in on-the-go and out-of-home occasions. “Smaller packages are much cheaper than larger bottles, and they’re much more portable, making them perfect for outdoor gatherings like barbecues and for retail channels like trains or aeroplanes,” Costin says. “These packages are also ideal for cooking, where recipes often call for smaller volumes.”

Lifestyle, economic and health considerations play a big part, according to Costin. Smaller packages are a way to control calories and maintain a more balanced diet. People are drinking less, or drinking more often but in smaller amounts.

“All in all, consumers want a variety of package sizes that enable them to consume the product when, where and how they want to,” Costin says. “Given global, social and demographic changes, there is a huge opportunity for wine producers to profit from smaller sizes and bring additional overall volumes to the market.”


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