ROMANIAN WINE CONSUMERS’ TENDENCIES
Romania’s real wine revolution started right after the country’s entry into the EU in 2007. EU funds allowed for new technologies and replantation of hybrid vines, therefore leading to a shift from bulk wine production to premium quality wine bottlings with a higher selling point. However, the average wine consumer in Romania still fancies average inexpensive wine. During the transition period towards a market-driven economy, characterized by high unemployment, inflation, shortages of consumer goods, and slow economic reforms, most families produced wine at home for personal consumption from hybrid grape varieties prohibited for commercialization. The homemade wine tradition continues today. As such, out-of-home consumption will equate to commercially produced wines similar in taste to their homemade counterparts. Moreover, low household income with a monthly average of 675 euros diminishes the purchasing power of consumers in relation to premium wines. When going to the super/hypermarkets, Romanian consumers would buy the most economical wine on the shelf, usually bulk wine imports sold for a lower price than any bottle of Romanian wine or en vrac (out of the barrel) wine from neighboring wineries. In restaurants, consumers typically settle for pitchers of house wines. Romanian wine consumers’ buying tendency focuses on paying less than a bit more for wine quality. Lastly, there is a consumer unawareness of premium wines.
Typically, Romanian wine shoppers have difficulties understanding and defining wine quality, which is producers’ marketing device to sell premium wine. Romanian average consumers have no level of involvement with premium wines, therefore no perception of quality, which would be nurtured by their potential interest in this category. In this picture it seems that the Romanian consumer’s behavior will remain unchanged due to reasons related to wine drinking habits, low household income and lack of wine education. As such, wine industry marketers need to take an active role and adjust consumer behavior to the notion of premium quality in wine. This can be achieved by gimmicks like free tastings in supermarkets and price discounts to encourage impulse purchasing, since studies show that consumers’ buying decision is highly correlated to their ability to taste the product. Moreover, wine PR campaigns should encourage learning about wine basics, like Romanian wine regions, grapes, wine styles and wine pairings, which in turn would spark an interest in quality wine bottlings.