Supermarket Wine Purchases, A Decade Later

at the Wine Rack

with Christopher Reckord

Thursday, January 11, 2018

I was, a decade ago, given an assignment to check out wine sales in our supermarkets. My findings were published on January 10, 2008. Some 500 articles later we are still sniffing, sipping and savouring wines and sharing what's good out there.

What Has Changed?

I retraced my steps and perused the shelves of some of those same establishments that I visited 10 years ago to see what has changed. Firstly, here are my 2008 findings:

How Consumers Buy Wine

What I said in 2008: “For consumers, the wealth of choices available today in a given class of wine can make the buying process downright intimidating. The majority of the wine-buying public does not know a great deal about the subject: who do they turn to for advice? Some come with a list or piece of paper with the name of a wine scribbled on it, some make a phone call to their friends, some ask the storeowner, others mill around taking up a bottle here and there to check the label or look for the price, and the rest buy the same thing every time, sticking with the evils they know.”

My Thoughts A Decade Later...

Nothing much has changed in the “off-trade”, ie supermarkets, but wine consumption in general has increased tremendously since 2008.

My Thoughts in 2008

What is missing from the supermarkets' wine sections?

Signage and point of sale (POS) material. What do I mean by signage and POS material? Shelf-talkers (aka shelf- hangers/shelf tags), case cards, counter cards, bottle-neckers, fact sheets. Seventy per cent of all wine and spirits consumers' buying decisions are made in the store. That means without POS, you risk losing sales — seven out of every 10 times someone is considering one of your wines for purchase.

My Thoughts Today

There is improvement; some importers have increased their branding on the shelves and others have invested in strategically placing wine-savvy merchandisers in supermarkets.

Product Diversity

What I said in 2008: “Something I also noticed was that it seems that all the supermarkets sold almost the same products; it appears that about four importers dominate the retail shelf space.”

What I say today: With about 12 wine importers there are definitely many more wines available than 10 years ago, with five or six more present on the supermarket shelves today. Loshusan Supermarket seems to be the only organisation that has made an investment in importing its own brands.

Shelf Time

What I said in 2008: “Another important concern is shelf time: how long will they allow this product to remain on the shelf? The thinking is that for the bottles that stand up in the display, after four to seven months the cork begins to dry out, allowing air in, which oxidises the wine, ultimately spoiling the product.”

My thoughts today: There is some change. I do believe that some importers are doing better than others with removing older vintages from the shelves.

In general, whilst there's a wider selection of wines on supermarket shelves, not a lot has changed with how they are being sold. The on-trade, ie restaurants and wine bars, is where the major shift has happened.

Christopher Reckord - Information Technology Entrepreneur & Wine Enthusiast. Send your questions and comments to You can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram @chrisreckord and on Twitter: @Reckord




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