Thursday 30 July 2015

Australia’s cask wine drinkers - who are they?


Don’t knock the box

While the proportion of Australian adults drinking wine has been in decline for some years, there’s no denying our nation’s illustrious wine-making tradition. One example that springs to mind is that icon of alcoholic ingenuity, the wine cask — a uniquely Aussie invention which celebrated its fiftieth anniversary earlier this year. But do people still drink wine from casks, or is ‘goon’ going-going-gone?

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), April 2014 – March 2015 (n=8,341).
Angove’s managing director John Angove, son of the inventor
of the wine cask Tom Angove, with an original cask.
Source: News Limited

The latest findings from Roy Morgan Research indicate that 45% of Aussie adults (or just over 8.1 million people) drink some kind of wine — still, sparkling and/or fortified — in an average four weeks, down from 50% in 2007. Of these, 16% (almost 1.3 million people) consume cask wine, a substantial decline from the 30% (2.3 million) who drank it back in 2007.

Considering that a South Australian invented the wine cask, it seems fitting that wine drinkers from SA are more likely than those from other states to enjoy their vino from a box: 18% drink cask wine in an average four weeks, just ahead of Queensland (a smidgen under 18%), Tasmania (17%) and Western Australia (17%).

Whereas the ratio between male and female drinkers is quite even for bottled wine, a noticeably higher proportion of men (18%) drink cask wine than women (14%).

Cask vs bottled wine 

Brown Brothers’ moscato cask is dressed up as a designer handbag. Source: News Corp Australia
 So what distinguishes a cask-wine drinker from the vast bottled-wine quaffing majority?

For starters, cask wine is especially popular among older Australians. People aged 65+ are almost 60% more likely to go for goon than the average wine drinker. At the opposite end of the age spectrum, 18-24 year-olds are also more likely to drink it (in striking contrast to 25-34 year-olds, among whom cask-wine drinking is well below average).

Of course, the affordability of cask wine would boost its appeal to both groups: while many in the younger group are still studying or in the early stages of their careers (with salaries to match), the 65+ bracket includes many retirees living on pensions.

In fact, affordability appears to be one of cask wine’s biggest selling points. For example, 26% of wine-drinkers from the cash-strapped FG socio-economic quintile and 24% of those from the budget-bound E quintile opt for cask wine, compared with just 8% of people from the most affluent AB quintile.

Andrew Price, General Manager – Consumer Products, Roy Morgan Research, says:
“Since South Australian winemaker Thomas Angove invented cask wine packaging in 1965, the ‘plastic bladder in a cardboard box’ has become a worldwide phenomenon. However, it seems cask wine’s glory days could be over, as there has been a substantial decline in the number of Aussies drinking it over the last few years.
“Whether this downward trend is simply a symptom of the more widespread decrease in wine-drinking in Australia, or the result of competition from a myriad of cheap bottled wines now available, is hard to know.
“What is certain, however, is that winemakers who produce a cask range need to have a detailed knowledge of the demographics, attitudes and habits of their target market so they can tailor their communications accordingly and expand their customer base as a result.”

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