Retail distribution is still the main actor in the sale of wines on the French market today with more than 80% of total sales in volume. However, in recent years, the French have shown a lack of interest in the departments of hypermarkets and supermarkets. Indeed, in 2016 we recorded the largest decrease in 10 years (-1.7% in volume). This trend is directly linked to the structural decline in household wine consumption and the search for better quality products. Today, the French consume less but better.
The wine merchants are the logical winners of this fundamental change: the number of stores has increased by 18% since 2008 (5762 wine merchants in 2016). The main wine merchant chains recorded a 4% increase in turnover in 2016. The other new key player in wine sales in France is the Internet. The offer is gradually being structured to reach around 600 players for a total turnover of €1.6 billion. Internet sales have grown by more than 30% on average over the past four years, with the arrival of new players such as Les Grappes, for example, which facilitates direct purchases from more than 1000 French winegrowers. They now represent 10% of the market by value (but only 1% by volume). This trend reflects the desire of the French for "less but better". The latest addition to the market, m-commerce (selling on Smartphones) will further boost online sales. One example is Vivino Market, Vivino's sales application, based on a powerful algorithm and a database of 23 million users worldwide that arrived in May 2017.
Wine production in France is mainly influenced by domestic consumption. Indeed, French winegrowers make the largest part of their turnover in France with 27.2 million hectolitres consumed, or one bottle per week and per inhabitant. It is important to note that this consumption is the result of many factors, the 3 main ones being:
- socio-economic: household budget trade-offs, consumption patterns
- cultural: gastronomy, "French-style" art of living
- regulatory: health policy, road safety, Evin law among others
According to the IFOP (Wine and Society), wine represents: tradition (92%), conviviality (91%), authenticity (87%), sharing (87%), and heritage (78%). The study also notes that "The transmission and knowledge of wine is largely in the family universe."
According to the Sowine barometer, in 2016, before buying wine, the French first consult their entourage, then professionals and finally the Internet. The main selection criteria during the purchase are origin (country, appellation) and price.
It should be noted that environmental factors have little or no influence on consumption choices. However, we can note the growth of new practices over the past few years focused on better product quality (particularly wine quality during tastings or festive occasions) and on a passion for new niche segments such as aromatized wines or organic wines. The organic wine segment already amounted to €700 million in 2016.
These trends confirm two figures, the decrease in consumption in volume which has stagnated since 2005 and the average annual budget allocated to the purchase of wine per household which rose from €279.2 in 2007 to €316.5 in 2015, an increase of 13%. Household wine consumption in value terms increased by 25 points over the same period. It should be noted that the increase in consumer prices (+26% compared to 2005) is also partly due to the decline in supermarket sales.