The South African wine market is undergoing changes at both the producer and retail levels, such as the influx of the new brands and new consumer demands with respect to health, biodiversity concerns and ethical issues. Although South Africa has no dominant wine culture and South Africans are predominantly beer and brandy drinkers, the industry has to develop the local market, especially the black consumer market. The most powerful marketing trend in the South African economy in the last 10 years has been the emergence and growth of the black middle class, increasingly referred to as Black Diamonds, which have emerged as the strongest buying influence in the economy. This has seen the propagation of a westernized culture in local communities. There is an overwhelming desire among the latter group to have access to a lifestyle they believe is their right. Making inroads in understanding this market presents a good opportunity since this is an important economic group. Black wine drinkers have to overcome individual families' attitudes to wine drinking. It is high on the industry’s agenda to swing the emerging black middle class market from high-end whiskies, cognac and beer, to wine while at the same time promoting the wine culture because this market is still hugely untapped. They also seek to vanquish the illusion of wines as a drink for white people by focusing on young upcoming black professionals as a target market. The data in this study was collected from an integration of a consumer behaviour survey (through a choice based conjoint analysis undertaken at the Soweto wine festival in Johannesburg); as well as personal interviews with industry stakeholders and reference group discussions. The study found that although there is limited consumer knowledge about wines and low levels of brand awareness, black consumers are willing and yearning to learn more about wines as they view them as an aspirational lifestyle beverage. The study also asserts that women are significantly more adventurous than their male counterparts in terms of experimenting with wines although the latter exhibit a higher willingness to pay for what they consider to be premium wine brands. Black consumers are still unsure about what wine attributes are important in choosing a wine. The industry needs to increase its efforts in educating and understanding this diverse market as the cultural attitudes towards wine are indeed changing. The study identified four wine consumer market segments among the Black Diamonds. The industry’s target market should be focused on women and the “Start me up” age group as they show the highest willingness to learn about wines and pay for brands that they consider to be premium brands as has been the case in all new wine markets. While still focusing on the 4 P’s of marketing, various new brand communication platforms can be explored to reach this market. These include co-opetition, extended service offerings, wine tourism and e-marketing. The success of the domestic market will be determined by new innovative insights into this market and complimentary market strategies.
Dissertation (MSc(Agric))--University of Pretoria, 2009.