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Decant Delights — Holiday Wine Trends on the Instacart Marketplace

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Oct 7, 2021

When we think about the holidays — which are just around the corner! — many things may come to mind. Turkey. Eggnog. Cranberries. Santa. But for our brand partners across the wine industry, the holidays mean opportunity. They mean game time; if their competition for sales and market share were a sport, this would be the Super Bowl. Because the amount of sales they do over the holidays can make or break their year.

Our numbers back this up. In fact, our data shows last year wine was the first item consumers added to their baskets in 7% of all deliveries during the holiday season. 

To put that into perspective, items from the pantry have a basket penetration 7x higher than wine but are only first in small baskets 11% of the time. So pantry items end up in a lot more orders, but wine’s comparatively high percentage of being first in the basket during holidays points to wine’s role as a trip driver — that for many getting wine was the purpose of the shop.

This year, wine’s performance on the Instacart marketplace could be particularly notable for a number of reasons. 

As we’ve previously covered, consumers are increasingly shopping at their favorite retailers through the Instacart marketplace. This makes winning on Instacart increasingly important for our brand partners competing in this category. Continuing the Super Bowl metaphor, it’s like scoring on the opening drive in that it sets you up for success.

Another factor drawing a lot of attention to this year’s holiday wine trends is the reported supply chain issues, longer than usual shipping times, and issues with the harvest in parts of Europe. As the article entitled ‘Stock up on your favorite wine now: Low inventory and higher prices are on the horizon’ the Washington Post suggested back in June, we could see “short supply and higher prices. The crunch is probably coming in late summer and maybe — if all goes well — easing by the holidays.” 

Thinking about these factors and questioning what impact they’d have on wine sales in Q4 (if any) had us considering what a typical year looks like for wine sales. Some seasonality trends seem obvious, like an increase in demand for Champagne, Prosecco, and other sparkling wines for New Year’s Eve. We also know that wine makes for a great gift so expect a portion of Q4 sales to be gift purchases — in fact, searches for the keyword ‘gifts’ are 15x higher in Q4 than the rest of the year. And with Instacart delivering in as little as 30 minutes a nice bottle of Chablis can slot in nicely as a last-minute gift for that out-of-town cousin you forgot was visiting. 

The team also found some often overlooked holiday wine trends which we’ll look at in this article. They help paint a picture of how consumers buy wine from their favorite retailers through the Marketplace.

Seasonality of wine sales

Viewing the wine sales through the Instacart marketplace over the course of a year, we can see that white and rose have less seasonality than do red and sparkling. Meaning their peaks aren’t as high, their troughs as low, relatively speaking. Sales of these wine types are closer to a flat line. Whereas Sparkling spikes for New Year’s Eve. Red wine’s spikes aren’t as pronounced, with notable rises for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but we see a broader trend with sales rising above white wine around the end of summer before falling below again for the summer months.  

Chart of weekly sales of wine by type showing seasonality

We can also see that the spike in weekly sales for red and white wine precede the week of the holiday as consumers stock up, but Champagne sales spike the week of, suggesting consumers are planning further ahead when they buy red and white wine. 

graph showing weekly sales spike for the holidays

Sparkling is the life of the party

Consumers are busting out the Sparkling when it’s time to celebrate! And while most of those celebrations are tied to holidays like Christmas and New Year’s Eve, looking at weekly sales for the sparkling wine category, we see some spikes coinciding with a couple of socio-political events as well. 

graph of sparkling wine sales spiking around holidays

Looking at the volume for sparkling wine on the Instacart marketplace, we see that 14 of the 15 highest volume days in 2020 occurred in November and December, with the top six days between the 22nd and 31st.

Reinforcing our earlier point that the holidays mean opportunity for our brand partners in the wine industry, especially sparkling wines.

How consumers shop for wine online

Some of the more interesting data on how consumers shop from their favorite retailers through the Instacart marketplace are the routes they take to find and buy products. Also known as the path to cart. Unlike going to the brick and mortar store where the number of paths consumers can take are described by the physical layout of the store, the digital version of that store on the Instacart marketplace has no limitations; consumers can search, browse, click on banners, and review personalized recommendations in any order, at any time. 

It’s a microcosm of the web itself. How you navigate from website to website has very few limitations. You can search for something, select a site from the search results, type a URL in directly, select a favorite from your bookmarks, and follow hyperlinks down rabbit holes. 

This becomes interesting when you can analyze the data and find tendencies for different products and types of customers. It’s like discovering fans of cat videos primarily use search engines to find the videos but baseball fans go straight to bookmarked sites. 

With consumers shopping for wine online through the Instacart marketplace, we found a lot of signs that they use search to discover — using a relatively generic and non-branded search term like ‘red wine’ or ‘chianti’ to see a list of matching products to browse from. 

Wine consumers use this approach overwhelmingly when they search for wine. 89% of the top 100 converting searches within the category are unbranded search terms with only 11% of the searches for a particular brand of wine. Suggesting when shopping for wine online, consumers want to browse the types of wines or at most a specific varietal.

The top converting search terms, by volume, is another indicator that consumers are searching to browse; of the top most searched terms in the wine category, the terms ‘wine’, ‘red wine’, ‘Champagne’, and ‘white wine’ have the highest share of search conversion volume. 

top converting search termsOr put another way, of all the times a consumer searched for something in the wine category and then purchased from the search results, the largest proportion of that time they searched for ‘wine’, then ‘red wine’, and so on.

So that’s a wrap on the wine review. We decanted some facts and poured out a nice glass of insights. But there’s plenty more in the cellar — if you’re interested in learning more about how consumers shop online in categories relevant to your business, consider partnering with us

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