Survey Results Biased: But Direct Wine Sales are Growing!
With more and more people using the internet to find and buy wine, it isn’t hard to see the opportunity presented by direct to consumer sales. This, coupled with relaxed state regulations, is making this channel a legitimate force in the wine industry.
Recently, VinQuest released their annual survey “to measure the size and dynamics of the U.S. consumer direct sales channel.” They surveyed 3500 + bonded wineries in the United States; with 230 actually participating. Paul Mabray feels that their sample size isn’t large enough to be statistically significant; but doesn’t give the numbers behind his reasoning.
With 6.5% participation of wineries, it seems like enough to render relatively accurate results (assuming random selection of participants). After consulting Statistics: Edition 3, by Freedman, Pisani and Purves (who was my Stats 2 Prof. at UC Berkeley), “If a large number of those selected for the sample do not in fact respond to the questionnaire or the interview, non-response bias is likely” page 336, Paragraph 1.
Non-response bias can kill the legitimacy of survey. If a statistics professor looked at VinQuest’s data, they would immediately dismiss the results. However, since their data is not being submitted to the court of law (or statistical journal), there are trends that can be accepted and examined.
Here are some of the major points found by VinQuest’s survey;
- *Total direct to consumer sales by U.S. wineries in 2006: $2.4 Billion
- Value of wine shipped directly to U.S. consumers in 2006: $1 Billion
- 2006 wine club sales at U.S. wineries: $598 Million: 66% Increase
- 2006 online sales at U.S. wineries: $197 Million: 45% Increase
- 2006 tasting room sales at U.S. wineries: $1.3 Billion: 18% Decrease
- 2006 event-driven sales at U.S. wineries: $100 Million: 30% Decrease*
One statistic I take issue with is “2006 tasting room sales at U.S. wineries: $1.3 Billion: 18% Decrease.” VinQuest’s study said “Visitor counts and sales per guest were down in many key U.S. wine regions, leading to lower tasting room and event sales in 2006.” What exactly is a “key U.S. wine region”?
If you are going to publish results that are intended to be taken seriously, you have to fully disclose your methods and results. Selective reporting of results is a huge red flag; and is grounds for dismissing the entire study.
However, taken at face value, these results are promising. The online wine industry is growing, and as state regulations begin to loosen up, this trend will continue the way its going. This is good for both winery and consumer.
Options for consumers will grow; beyond what their local grocery store offers. Wineries will not be forced to dump their wine at half price to wholesalers. And the collective knowledge of the public’s perception of wine will increase with growing exposure to more wineries and regions. It seems to be a win, win, win.