Wine fridges | Bottle bank

Increased wine consumption by consumers can reap rewards in dedicated storage sales, reports Philippa Turrell

28 Apr, 17

Increased wine consumption by consumers can reap rewards in dedicated storage sales, reports Philippa Turrell

With UK consumers increasingly embracing a foodie culture, whether in formal restaurants, casual dining pop-ups or street markets, it has seen a corresponding growth in wine sales. This is because wine is still considered the most appropriate drink to accompany food. According to IWSR, provider of consumption trends for wine and spirits, while globally the wine market is set to see a 0.03% decline from 2009 to 2019, the UK will actually see a 0.35% growth. And this trend for wine drinking is mirrored in the home, with global trends consultant of the ISWR Sophia Shaw-Brown reporting at London Wine Fair 2016 consumers are more willing to spend on quality experiences.  All of which means great potential for the sale of specific wine storage in the home, as consumers entertain at home pairing wine with a meal.

Growth in sales

Certainly the popularity for wine storage is evident in sales figures for wine cabinets, fridges and chillers. According to managing director of Caple Danny Lay: “The market has increased by double digit growth, as wine storage becomes an essential part of kitchens and home entertaining.” Certainly Fisher & Paykel has witnessed growth in its sales of wine cabinets, as marketing manager Helen Haider comments: “At Fisher & Paykel we have seen excellent sales since we launched our wine cabinet range in February 2016. They have sold so well, we were out of stock for most of the year.”

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Wide demographic span

Dedicated wine storage was once the preserve of the premium market. Indeed Fisher & Paykel targets the 35+ age group, with most sales in and around London and the South East “so they are established and are often high earners”, says Helen Haider. But now there are models available across a variety of price spectrums to suit every pocket and kitchen budget, widening the potential market for wine storage sales. Marketing manager at CDA Steve Corbett comments: “Wine drinking is no longer just for connoisseurs, with polling commissioned by the Wine and Spirit Trade Association showing it now the favoured alcoholic drink for 60% of UK adults.” He continues: “Wine chillers used to be an elitist product but are now available in all sizes and at approachable prices. CDA has one of the largest ranges on the market, moving from a compact model that will hold 7 bottles to a full-height model that takes 126 bottles.”

And product manager at Miele Max McCormick agrees, adding: “Previously reserved for high-end kitchens, but now with price-led products available, the market has opened up new consumer groups. Young professionals who want to have separate storage for their wine, but also see it as a status symbol can quite easily find a wine cooler to fit their budget, kitchen style and size. This has really broadened the demographic, widening the age group and location of customers.”

In fact, such has been the division in the market Max McCormick believes the market can be split into two main groups: “the price-driven wine coolers, and the quality-led wine conditioning units which are Miele’s main focus.”

Distinguishing wine storage appliances, from chillers to cabinets, sees the top-end focused on  long-term preservation of quality wines. Danny Lay of Caple explains premium-priced wine cabinets take into account “the four main enemies of wine: heat, light, vibration and humidity, whereas entry and most mid-level are only concerned with chilling wine.” In fact, focusing on the four “enemies” has been the biggest recent developments across the dedicated wine storage appliance design. And Max McCormack explains why: “These are much more than fridges adapted for wine, but rather conditioning units offering the perfect storage conditions for the most discerning sommelier.”

Temperature zones

In terms of temperature, wine storage can be set to dedicated temperatures. But the most premium models will offer a choice of zones. Divisional manager UK of Liebherr Tim Hutchinson comments: “All wine cabinets come with a set temperature suitable for all bottles, however at the more serious end of the market, they are ‘zoned’, fully adjustable and designed to provide a choice of temperatures, typically between 5°C and 20°C to chill white or red.” In fact, Danny Lay suggests the dual zone temperature is the most popular model in his company’s sales and his view is re-iterated by Helen Haider of Fisher & Paykel who comments: “We find that consumers expect dual zone, so our range of 5 SKUs all have dual zone.” However, Miele takes it one step further with a top-of-the-range, freestanding model offering three zones – one for red, one for white and one for champagne.

Minimum disruption

However, it’s not simply balanced air temperature that is important for preserving the taste of wine, it also requires minimum disruption from light, with UV glass doors and minimum vibration so sediment is not disturbed. Helen Haider says Fisher & Paykel has “invested time and effort into making sure the compressor is low vibration – as this can impact the taste of wine, especially reds, and that the fan-assisted control ensures even air circulation, which minimises musty smells.” And Tim Hutchinson of LIebherr explains the technology in its wine cabinets, when he comments they “are designed with a specialist filter that is designed to purify the fresh air to result in optimum, quality wine.”

Space-saving storage

Obviously the popularity of wine storage is dependent on kitchen space and budget, or how seriously the consumer takes their wine. However, industry experts seem to suggest space-saving models are key. Max McCormack states: “This is where built-in models come into play and our 450mm niche model provides the best of both worlds.”  Although Fisher & Paykel claims a freestanding model is its best-seller. Haider states: “Our most popular wine cabinet is the RF106RDWX1, which is a smaller freestanding cabinet. It holds 50 bottles and doesn’t take up too much space.” And a similar capacity is also the best-selling for Caple, as Danny Lay points out: “Slimmer widths, two temperature zoned units of around 59 bottles, which can be installed either on their own or in banks, are the fastest-growing types.”

Wondering about Wi-Fi

What seems to be less certain is the how wine storage will develop in line with the connected kitchen or smart home. Max McCormick is rather non-committal about the impact of the Internet of Things on future wine storage design, as he states: “They will be captured in the Smart Home trend, but the benefit to the consumer will be minimal.” However, Danny Lay is more enthused about the possibility of Wi-Fi connected wine storage, as he comments: “Connectivity to home automation systems and via phone apps will definitely become important and widespread.” And Helen Haider agrees, stating: “I think we will see wine cabinets that can keep you informed on what wines you have in your cabinet.”  In fact, Max McCormack suggests the developments to drive top-end cabinets will be more functional sommelier functions, or incorporating humidors for cigars.

The market for wine cabinets is only likely to grow over the next two years, as people enhance their homes, and new build specification now includes wine storage. Max McCormack adds: “They’re increasingly on consumers’ wish lists and the range is growing giving customers many more options. Another sector of the market that continues to grow is the contract market with many developers specifying wine conditioning units in residential developments, as consumers are starting to expect this level of specification.” The inclusion in new build also offers a replacement market when the appliance reaches end of life. So ensure you understand your wine chillers from cabinets and can recommend the appropriate model for customers. Talking about dedicated wine storage could be a great starting point to an additional appliance sale, boosting the project pricetag. Some could say it is a real bottle bank!

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Marketing manager of Hoover Candy Baumatic Kelly Penn takes a look at the influences driving wine cabinet sales

As with the fashion industry, there are certain trends in kitchen appliances that stand out above the rest of the market; the only difference is that it takes years and not months to reach the mainstream. Unless a fine wine connoisseur, it was unlikely that a wine cabinet would have been on a list of must-have appliances in the kitchen a decade ago. But, since more cellars in the home have in that time been extended or converted to lifestyle spaces, there are fewer places to store wine safely. Ten years on, and it’s unlikely that a designer will create a blueprint for a kitchen without suggesting a wine storage option.

Open plan living has been a significant gamechanger as space can be maximised by including a kitchen island as the centre focus. Because of their good looks, with smoked glass door revealing the bottles inside, undercounter wine cabinets are often installed within an island itself, or in a run of units. This has led to huge increases in sales of versatile freestanding and/or built-in undercounter models that are designed either to be standalone or to fit within a kitchen layout. Sizes range from space efficient single temperature 7 bottle versions upwards to 46 bottle dual temperature combination options.

Kitchen trends tend to reflect changes in consumer purchasing habits and over the last two years sales of wine cabinets have consistently recorded double digit increases. From Jan-June 2016 volume sales of wine cabinets increased by 25%. In 2014, it was reported that wine had become the preferred alcoholic beverage or choice for over 60% of UK adults, and sales of sparkling wines such as Prosecco and Cava have increased from 29% in 2013 to over 36% in 2016. Wine purchasing is set to rise by 0.35% by 2019, bucking global trends, even given the potential price rises following Brexit, and 82% of all wine currently purchased from the UK is from supermarkets – for people to drink at home.

While consumers tend to know that red wines require storing in cool dark places, they are also becoming increasingly aware of the message that standard refrigeration models can be detrimental to storing white wine and sparkling wines, which bodes well for future sales of wine cabinets across all market segments.