Port producers, always fearful the industry could experience the same kind of slump which hit sherry in the 1990s, are looking to attract younger consumers.
Although Port traditionally peaks at Christmas, another priority is to drive sales throughout the year. Paulo Pinto, marketing manager at trade organisation Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e do Porto, explains: “By maintaining Port’s inherent link to tradition but combining it with innovative marketing, Port can begin to build a new image for itself around modern tastes.”
And it would appear producers are beginning to have some success in attracting a younger generation to Port. Recent figures from ACNielsen show a quarter of Port sales are now to under-35s.
Women also hold the key to the future growth of the market. Sue Glasgow, a spokeswoman for The Fladgate Partnership, which owns the Taylor’s and Croft brands, says that Port must move away from its ‘cigar and slippers’ image without alienating traditional drinkers.
“This year we have been working with chocolate companies to enjoy their products with Late Bottled Vintage Ports
and promoting chilled tawny either on its own or with food in the summer,” she says.
Glasgow urges retailers to do more to educate shoppers. “Traditional shoppers will buy the same product every time, but younger consumers are ready to trade up.”
Meanwhile, sherry sales are still skewed towards Christmas. Spirits company Gonzalez Byass UK says most of its activity this year will be focused on its Croft sherry brand. “Our main effort will be ensuring availability, focusing on feature and display,” says marketing director Jeremy Rockett, who notes sales have increased since the bottle was redesigned last year.
Although the sherry market has dropped about 5% in value over the past few years, Rockett says Tio Pepe, another Gonzalez brand, is also becoming more popular after its sponsorship of Hell’s Kitchen.