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Clarifying our research

Published:  18 January, 2007

While gratifying to note recognition by Dr Caroline Ritchie of the quantitative research conducted by Wine Intelligence (Consumers still poorly defined', Harpers, January 12), several points deserve clarification.

First, two of the three stages of WineNation were based on qualitative processes - interviews with nearly 400 consumers.

Second, the 100 billion global wine industry needs help in understanding and applying consumer behaviour just like any other major FMCG category, and the Constellation Europe initiative to invest in WineNation is an important contribution to this increasingly essential marketplace requirement.

Third, no-one concerned with developing winning wines for consumers should be deluded into assuming that the best research is in the public domain.

Inevitably, much of the real breakthrough work is performed for clients and is confidential to their business, as is some of WineNation. Much of the leading-edge qualitative work at Wine Intelligence is in this category.

Finally, we should all be encouraged by the very insightful and applicable learnings from the WineNation segmentation. Based on a weighted sample of UK regular wine drinkers, this model was developed using Latent Class Analysis, recognised as the most robust statistical technique for clustering by behaviour, demographics and psychographics, and used intensively within Wine Intelligence.

Every global industry needs a structural framework to help describe its consumers across its business and with retailers, and WineNation is the most comprehensive and market-focused supply side initiative available to the UK trade.

Your correspondent is correct in one respect: wine consumers in the UK, at least, are generally a sophisticated group. For many, the wine moment is about occasion, situation, and enjoying choice, and wine buying is as much an emotional as a rational experience.

Thus, our category is more interesting, but also harder to understand and invest in effectively. Every little insight helps.

Lulie Halstead,

chief executive, Wine Intelligence