U.S. sales of wines priced at $10 to $14 a bottle have climbed 14 percent over the past 12 months, and sales at $25 a bottle (and up) have grown 18 percent. The trend is expected to continue (source: UBS Warburg research).
Indeed, wine consumption is on the increase in the United States, and customers are trading up. Better still for the wine industry, wine overtook coffee as the most popular meal time beverage in the U.S. in 1998 (Wine Business Monthly, 6/00).
Americans spent more than $20 billion on wine in 1999, up from $17.6 billion the previous year - an increase of more than 13 percent (WBM, 4/00).
Consumption trends and demographics point to robust wine sales growth for the next 15 years.
The bullish outlook was documented by well-known industry consultant Vic Motto of Motto, & Fisher and is based on that firm's look at the forces driving increased fine wine consumption. His findings and conclusions were presented as part of a presentation entitled "Wine: What's Powering This Rocket?"
Wine demand is likely to be boosted strongly by the aging of the U.S. population. Per capita consumption of wine increases with age, with early consumers drinking only 6.6 bottles per year. Consumption peaks at 16.4 bottles annually among adults 50-59 years old. "Baby boomers, more than any other previous generation, view wine as a simple, affordable luxury." Given that the strongest growth in population over the next 10 years will be among these adults, who currently consume about 40 percent of all wines, it is easy to understand Motto's bullish outlook. "The aging demographic transformation is going to continue for the next 15 years, and the traits of this population as they shift into their older years of life fit wine to a ‘T'" said Motto. Interestingly, their children, today's echo-boomers, make up another population group that will experience rapid growth over the next decade.
The influence of demographics on wine consumption is so strong, according to MKF, that if the current growth rate in wine sales were adjusted to account for the population changes, then U.S. wine consumption potentially could increase 80 percent by 2015 due to demographics alone. Also, comprehensive industry research has shown that down turns in the economy and the stock market appear to have no impact on wine sales. In fact, wine sales rose slightly during previous stock market declines.
U.S. Per Capita Wine Consumption by Age:
As one would expect, wine consumption in the Boston metropolitan area exceeds national averages, primarily due to higher per capita income levels and a more global population mix. Europeans, for example, drink 5 to 10 times more wine per capita than their American counterparts. Consequently, we conservatively base our business plan projections for the Southside Towers resident segment to buy an average of 15 bottles of wine per capita per year from our store.
The following chart and table show the market analysis for Vino Maestro.
Due to regulatory constraints, the retail wine and spirit trade in Massachusetts is comprised of many independent participants. Chain stores are not allowed. No change is seen in this structure for the foreseeable future, although some changes are afoot in Internet-driven distribution operations, particularly for wholesalers.
Competition to a large degree depends on location, as stores take a stake in a territory that engenders best in-store sales prospects. Relationships are cultivated with better customers, both individual and wholesale, who may qualify for discounts based on volume purchases. Prices in the Boston marketplace are not subject to much variance, as retailers seek to protect their margins against distributor costs that are virtually the same for all. Distributors, however, reward volume, and high-volume retailers have the capability to build a competitive advantage. For example, Millstones runs periodic Super Sales, with retail prices of over 200 wines offered at distributor cost prices. This is something only a high-volume retailer could afford to do.
Other competitive factors include breadth and depth of available stock, product knowledge, customer service, expense management, marketing programs, employee productivity, management of detailed information, in-store presentation and overall design, hours of operation, incoming and outgoing delivery efficiencies, product packaging, customer loyalty, out-of-area competition, pricing, and reputation.
Global Wines is about 1,500 feet from our proposed storefront. It is our primary local competitor, although not a serious threat to our main residential base of customers within Southside, who will find our location much more convenient to their needs. Another important factor is that our selection and product knowledge will appeal to the high-income Southside Towers resident, while Global Wines has more of a neighborhood grocer approach with less focus on product knowledge.
Stillman Wines on Packard Street is the next nearest competitor, about 2,500 feet north of our location. Although Stillman is a high-volume shop with strength in pricing power, it remains far beyond the practical boundaries for shoppers who live in our neighborhood.
There are other direct marketers and major advertisers that can deliver into our territory: Beverson's, Millstone's, Gainer, and Morrison. We expect our local delivery service will be faster and more responsive than these bigger players.
Internet storefronts (evinyard.com, Wine.com, etc.) are emerging competitiors and may be more of a longer term issue, since the industry and marketplace is in the process of experimenting, testing and adapting to changing conditions in search of a business model that works over the long term. We intend to develop our own website and emerge as a player by developing with website economics that make this a self-funding outlet for sales and service.
Non-local stores that are in commuter paths of our neighborhood residents are also competitors, which will make us ever aware of the importance of cultivating relationships with our neighborhood residents so we can develop a long-term loyal customer base.
The target market profile consists of Boston residents who are educated, successful professionals, with high disposable income, and who are regular consumers of alcoholic beverages. Most of the consumers in this category rely on assistance in selecting wines and spirits. Consequently, they tend to reward the most capable merchants with loyalty and word-of-mouth advertising. This is an area that Vino Maestro will work to develop as a keystone of its marketing strategy.
Other potential segments (geographic, demographic, preferences):
Bulk volume: private and business. Much of this business needs to be cultivated through opportunistic networking, and diligent follow-ups of in-store inquiries and leads.
Boston direct deliverables: (outside immediate store neighborhood) viable only as the store earns its way into a position in which it can invest in vehicle delivery operations and line up target customers that would sustain such an operation.
Intra-state shipments: contingent on expansion following the successful implementation of this business plan in the first year or two of operations. This business would develop through direct-mail catalog marketing, and an Internet sales operation.
Other than the market segment carved out by Beverson's and a handful of major players, little attention is paid to the opportunities of geographic extensions through direct shipments of wine & spirits throughout Massachusetts. Beverson's markets over the Internet and has over 220 thousand actual and potential customers on its mailing list. As a goal, our company will seek to capture of piece of the apparently substantial demand for direct shipment sales. Is is important to note that if current lobbying efforts are successful in influencing state and national liquor authorities to allow interstate shipments, our company intends to be in a good position to capture a piece of this outstanding potential growth opportunity. Even without interstate sales, a successful penetration of the Massachusetts intra-state marketplace would mean substantial growth for a neighborhood business.