Brits love a bargain, but lack confidence in a restaurant

by Charles Metcalfe

Two recent market research reports shed light on British attitudes to buying wine. A report for international financial services company Deloitte on how British consumers would be spending their money on alcoholic drinks over the holiday season reveals

that brand is the first consideration for the British when buying beer, but not such a strong factor for wine. Unlike beer buyers, two-thirds of wine buyers would switch to another brand if their preferred tipple was not available. However, a British drinker s brand-loyalty could be broken by that even more seductive offer a bargain.

For women, price is a more important factor than brand in the buying decision. But their intentions were to spend 10% less on wine this year than last, whereas men were down too in their estimated spend, but only by 2%. The only age category planning to spend more was the over 65s, who reckoned their spend on wine would be up 27%. And Tim Wilson, director in consulting at Deloitte observed: Our research confirms that brands targeting the grey pound or the older generations - should focus more on recommendation and word of mouth than big offers in store.

British wine drinkers have not yet made the leap to buying in quantity that beer buyers have. Offers of deals on cases of wine only attract 17% of wine buyers. What turns 33% of them on are price-cutting promotions. It comes as no surprise, then, that 78% of wine shoppers were intending to do most of their buying in supermarkets. Despite claims of increasing sales by UK online wine operations, it seems the British wine drinker is not ready yet to forsake his supermarket shopping trolley for the festive bottles. Even if it means lugging all those heavy bottles back home himself.

The second survey interviews 200 young London professionals about ordering food and wine in restaurants. It paints a depressing picture. 71% of those interviewed say they would be put off ordering a wine whose name they could not be certain of pronouncing correctly. Maybe this explains why more restaurants are listing more easy-to-pronounce varietal wines from countries such as Australia and New Zealand. 76% feel awkward tasting wine at the table , saying they find it embarrassing and don t know how to do it properly . This lack of confidence extends to food as well, with 63% saying they would never send food back if it was unsatisfactory. And 55% admit that they have ordered cheaper items on the menu in the hope that this would influence others to order from the lower price end of the menu when hosting an event.

Stella West-Harling, Director of the Ashburton Cookery School, who commissioned the survey, commented that it was disappointing, but perhaps not very surprising, that the British have quite so many hang-ups when it comes to dining out. We are a nation of acutely self-conscious and modest people, but some of the findings of this survey reveal just how a younger generation of diners turn the restaurant dining experience into a trial, rather than the pleasure that it should be.



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