Is $10 the sweet spot for wine-sipping consumers willing to go beyond $5 a bottle but not too far into double digits? Walmart is banking on it: The Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer is expanding its private-label wine line with a new collection of bottles priced at $10 a pop.
The Winemakers Selection Reserve Series includes five offerings: a pinot grigio from Italy, a rose from France, a sauvignon blanc from Australia, a malbec from Argentina and a cabernet sauvignon from California. The wines will be available at Walmart stores nationwide and for online purchase for store pickup/home delivery as local laws permit.
"Over the past year, we’ve noticed our customers have been more interested in exploring premium wines but wanting to try them at an accessible price point without sacrificing quality," Walmart VP of Adult Beverage Jason Fremstad wrote in a blog post on Walmart's website.
The introduction of the Reserve Series comes after a rethinking of the retailer's Winemakers Selection private-label line. Winemakers Selection debuted in 2018 with a collection of nine wines priced around $11 a bottle. Walmart ultimately determined that an $11 price point was beyond what many customers were looking for—especially given the phenomena of cult-favorite sub-$5 wines at the likes of Trader Joe's and Aldi. Walmart revamped the lineup and debuted the streamlined Winemakers Selection Classic Series at a $5 price point last year. Since that relaunch, the Classic Series wines "have quickly become a customer favorite," Fremstad wrote.
Walmart's move back into value-oriented but not bottom-shelf-priced wines comes after a year in which higher-priced offerings outperformed their less-expensive counterparts at retail: Bottled table wines priced at $20 and higher saw volume sales climb 30% from January through September 2020; wines priced below $8 saw volumes climb just 2.5%, Wine Spectator reported.
As for the future? With consumers embracing a return to restaurants, ballparks and other away-from-home destinations for adult beverages this summer, the outlook for wine sales at retail remains somewhat cloudy. That's in no small part thanks to the increasingly crowded adult beverage category and the products surging in popularity at restaurants and retail, especially among younger consumers: everything from hazy IPAs to hard seltzers and canned cocktails.
Availability to purchase online may be key to helping Walmart's wines—and new offerings from all adult beverage players—thrive: In a recent survey from adult-beverage e-commerce platform Drizly, 53% of drinking-age Americans said they plan to make more of their alcohol beverage purchases online than they did during the pandemic.
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