Champagne or Prosecco? Here’s What Wine Suppliers and Distributors Need to Consider

by | Aug 28, 2019 | Wine & Spirits

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Perhaps most drinkers can’t tell the difference between a glass of prosecco and Champagne, but nevertheless they are buying more bubbly — and it’s not just to celebrate. 

In social circles, drinkers may interchange “Champagne,” “sparkling wine,” and “prosecco,” but there are distinct differences in where it’s made, how it’s made, and what grapes are used to make it. Let’s look at some of the trends in Champagne vs. prosecco, and what wine suppliers and distributors need to consider in their sales process.

Champagne and prosecco sales trends

Most drinkers might not be able to tell the difference in taste, but wine distributors are certainly seeing a difference in sales.

Prosecco has become the best-selling sparkling wine by volume in the United States. There’s also more of it, with 544 million bottles being produced per year — that’s 75% more bottles than Champagne. However, because of its higher price per bottle, Champagne can still claim a higher revenue. Champagne sales hit a record of more than $5.4 billion last year, whereas Prosecco only made $890 million.

So what’s the real difference between Champagne and everything else?

Arguably, the most famous type of bubbly is Champagne. Champagne is made from chardonnay, pinot noir, and pinot meunier grapes, and it is exclusively grown in the Champagne region of northeast France. 

France is very protective over its wines and the French have made real efforts to protect the term “Champagne” since 1919 in the Treaty of Versailles. They didn’t want their overall brand to be tarnished by foreign imitators. In 2006, the United States signed a wine-trade agreement in which they agreed to not let American vintners use the term “Champagne,” “Port,” “Burgundy,” and “Chablis.” A few brands with approved labels were grandfathered in to being able to use the term “Champagne.”

While it used to be considered less elite than Champagne, Prosecco is the new favorite of drinkers. Prosecco comes from the Veneto region of Italy and is made mainly from glera grapes. Exports are up 16% from last year. 

Until five years ago, some may have never even tried sparkling wine. But Prosecco’s market share is growing and drinkers like the taste. Prosecco’s rising popularity can be attributed to its lower price tag and its rising accessibility. 

It’s also cheaper to produce Prosecco. The average cost is about $4.20 a bottle, whereas Champagne on average can be as high as $11.63. This is why it is marked up higher in stores. Champagne production is more costly because a lot more manual labor is needed. The bottles must be rotated at a certain angle, daily, during fermentation. 

What distributors can do to increase sparkling wine sales

It’s a great time to put efforts and money behind marketing your sparkling wine to help increase your sales. 

If your brand has true Champagne, consider marketing it as a luxury product to enjoy. Some brands have partnered with social media influencers to help portray the lifestyle that comes along with drinking good bubbly. It’s aspirational, it’s special, it has a lot of history behind it, and it’s delicious. 

If your brand features a Prosecco, consider marketing it more as a delicious everyday drink to be shared at home or at home. In stores, you can put up posters that show what foods best pair with Prosecco, so while a customer is shopping for a party or meal they can envision what they’d drink with it. 

If you’re a family-owned winery with a sparkling wine, you can feature your sparkling wine as the wine-of-the-month in your wine club to help increase sales via your direct-to-consumer channel.

Also, check your data. What do your customers want? What price point is most profitable for you? Data and analytics can help provide insights as to what you should be planning for in the next three to five years and beyond.

Meredith Galante

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