As beer ventures into elevated wine territory – with the emergence of sophisticated pairing menus, for instance – wine is becoming more casual and approachable. Selling it in cans is one way in which brands are taking cues from the beer industry, targeting millennials with a format that aligns with their lifestyles and mindset. See also Gen Y: The New Wine Consumer.
The concept is catching on, with Nielsen reporting a 125% increase to $14.5m in US canned wine sales for the year ended June 2016. While canned sparkling wines are not as new, Nielsen reports sales for canned table wines jumped from less than $1m in annual sales last year, to well over $6m in 2016. Around a third of millennial purchasers told Nielsen they expected “very good quality”, versus a quarter of purchasers more broadly.
The product “can open up new drinking occasions and new opportunities for people to drink wine in places they haven’t in the past”, as Danelle Kosmal, vice-president for Nielsen’s beverage alcohol practice, told Business Insider.
Several brands are using the canned format to present an uncomplicated beverage proposition, targeting millennial men with bold packaging and messaging that eschew pretention. Underwood, by Oregon’s Union Wine Company, uses the tagline: “Wine doesn’t have to be this hard”, while Alexis Beechen, co-founder of canned rosé The Drop, told Adweek: “We wanted to put a flag in the ground and say that wine should be enjoyed. It doesn't have to be stressful.” For more, see Wine Packaging for Millennial Males.
Denver winery The Infinite Monkey Theorem, which sold the equivalent of almost 40,000 cases of canned wine last year, simply labels them “red wine” and “white wine”. The company also sells a canned rosé and moscato. ManCan, a small US company that launched last year, sells red and white blends described as “everyday wines”. Meanwhile, each can contains a special interior lining that means the wine never touches the aluminium, removing the risk of the taste being spoilt.
Canned wine may connect with younger drinkers because they have fewer preconceived notions around the category and openness to unfamiliar concepts. US-based Latitude Beverage Company asked consumers to rate their interest in trying canned wine on a scale of one to 10 (1 being no interest), finding that under-42s averaged scores of eight, while over-50s came in at less than three. Following on from this, Latitude launched Lila, a canned line of two whites and a rosé, earlier this year.