BevAlc Insights’ 2H 2020 Red Blends Forecast
Red blends once soared towards the top of wine sales, but now growth is flat. Here’s what retailers need to know to optimize their red blend inventory.
Within the red wine category, the top-selling category on Drizly in 2020, red blends have become a customer staple, besting many traditional varietal wines. However, growth has slowed in recent years as consumers explore other offerings within the wine category. While the numbers may initially seem less interesting, they actually point to red blends’ stability as a subcategory and ability to deliver consistent sales for retailers.
Not Declining, but Not Growing
Red wine is the number one category on Drizly, accounting for 38.4 percent share of wine sales and 14.6 percent share of overall sales. This has largely remained consistent within the wine category; red blends’ share of wine sales is up just 0.4 percent year-over-year.
The trajectory of the red blends subcategory has largely mirrored the flat performance of red wine as a whole: Red blends have accounted for up 4.25 percent share of wine sales so far this year, up slightly from 2019, and they have accounted for 11 percent of red wine share — the same as last year. Over multiple years, however, the subcategory has experienced marginal decline.
“Overall, we have seen a slight decline in red blend share over the last five years,” says Liz Paquette, the head of consumer insights for Drizly. “In 2016, red blends accounted for 11.6 percent share of the red wine category compared to 11 percent during the same time period in 2020.”
An increased interest in varietal wines among consumers is a likely contributor to the category’s stagnant growth. “Our data suggests a potential shift in consumer preference towards varietals compared to blends in the red wine category in the last five years,” adds Paquette.
Part of this shift towards varietal wines may be due to the low-sugar trend. “Red blends, while not necessarily sweet, tend to be on the slightly sweeter side of red wines,” explains Ryan Lee, a market analyst at the IWSR. “With intense focus on sugar content, consumer palates in the U.S. are evolving. Consumer adoption from no and low-sugar seltzers leaves a possibility that consumer preference for lower sugar content will evolve to demand drier styles of wine.”
The premiumization trend is also impacting the red blend category’s growth because red blends often fall within more affordable price points. According to Lee, data from the IWSR reports that online purchases during the pandemic have a higher dollar value per bottle. “[This] indicates that e-commerce wine shoppers are seeking specific premium products rather than a bargain deal,” he adds.
Which Red Blends are Selling?
Top-selling red blends are remarkably consistent year-over-year, so it’s easy for retailers to make smart stocking decisions. “The top 10 products in the red blend category have been stable year over year from 2019 to 2020,” says Paquette, “so we recommend retailers prioritize these reliable SKUs within their inventory.”
Because the red blend category appeals to consumers looking for more affordable wines, red blend sales are heavily skewed towards lower price points. On Drizly, the $0 to $9.99 price range accounts for 17.8 percent of red blend sales, while it only accounts for 9.7 percent of overall red wine sales. Conversely, the $20 to $29.99 price range drives only 9.5 percent of red blend sales, though it comprises 20.7 percent of overall red wine sales.
However, Paquette suggests that retailers look to capture new customers with new, higher-priced red blends. “One strategy retailers can consider to entice customers to the red blend category is to stock a wider selection of price offerings within the category,” says Paquette. “By diversifying prices of red blends in the selection, retailers can attract customers who are searching in a higher price range and who may have otherwise not considered a red blend for their purchase.”
For instance, the Prisoner Wine Company, which currently holds the number two spot among red wine best-sellers despite having a higher price tag, has two new premium red blend releases: Unshackled, launched last year, and an upcoming Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon blend. Further, two of Drizly’s fastest-growing red blends in September were premium offerings from Decoy and Antonori.
Drizly’s Top Selling Red Blends in 2020
- Apothic Red
- Prisoner Red Blend
- 19 Crimes Red Blend
- Menage A Trois Red
- Bota Box RedVolution
- Apothic Inferno
- Roscato Rosso Dolce
- Conundrum Red
- Orin Swift Abstract
- Apothic Crush
Who is Buying Red Blends?
Across Drizly, purchasers of red blends skewed more towards women than the overall red wine category; female consumers accounted for 61.5 percent of red blend sales, while they accounted for 57.5 percent of overall red wine sales. However, major brands like Apothic, the Prisoner Wine Company, and 19 Crimes all report a near 50/50 split between male and female consumers. Red blend age demographics skew younger than the red wine category, with more purchasers falling into the 21 to 27 and 28 to 34 age ranges compared to other red wine varietals.
While red blends are an important part of red wine sales across many markets, there are several markets where red blend sales outperform the national average on Drizly. Retailers in Denver, northern New Jersey, Long Island, and Baltimore should especially dedicate shelf space to red blends.
What’s Ahead for Red Blend Sales?
Though red blends’ trajectory may be flat, the reality is that this category has remained remarkably stable in recent years. What the category lacks in growth, it gains in staying power.
In fact, Nielsen reported in September that the red blend category, along with Sauvignon Blanc, was one of the only two wine categories to grow in off-premise sales share over a 20-week period; over the same period, blended red table wines saw a 21.9 percent increase in off-premise dollars.
The IWSR has noticed a similar trend, though it indicates overall market growth for some other wine categories as well. “The red blend category remains the fourth-largest still wine varietal and will maintain a sizable market share well into the future,” says Lee. “IWSR shows red blends are actually outperforming the overall still wine market, though growth is not as high as rosé blends, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot Grigio.”
The success of new brands suggests there’s still great potential within the red blend category; in partnership with Snoop Dogg, 19 Crimes released Snoop Cali Red in July 2020, which helped boost the company’s e-commerce sales 400 percent from September 2019 to September 2020.
“19 Crimes Cali Red is on fire and is racing to be our highest selling product this year,” says John Wardley, the vice president of marketing for 19 Crimes. “It is too early to predict how Cali Red will land in comparison to the other SKUs, as the top 19 Crimes SKUs are all growing double digits, but it is off to a great start.”
“Red blends offer consumers such a broad spectrum of possibilities,” says Molly Davis, the vice president of marketing for Apothic. “They pair with most foods, yet also stand alone. They deliver well-crafted, rich taste at a range of prices. Red blends are an all-around great choice for anyone who likes red wine or is new to the wine category.”
While growth may not be as high as it once was, retailers should prepare for red blends to be a fixture within the wine category. “We anticipate that red blends will remain a dependable staple within the red wine category, particularly for consumers searching for an affordable option,” says Paquette.