South African wines dominate the Zimbabwean consumer market and nearly all market segments above the low-income groups are interested in wine, making opportunities for brand activations and wine education plentiful. 

 South Africa currently exports 1 291 516 litres wine to landlocked Zimbabwe of which 764 154 litres are white wine, while red wine just exceeded the 400 000-litre mark. Cabernet tops the red wine ranking with 57 420 litres in the single varietal category, while Sauvignon Blanc is the most popular white single variety with a whopping 74 345 litres shipped to Zim in 2017.

A typical Zimbabwean wine drinker is a black female aged 30 who drinks wine socially and with meals and enjoys venues that offer variety and reasonable prices. Younger people with this profile tend to prefer semisweet white wine, while older people with this profile understand and enjoy dry white wine.

There’s a misperception in Zimbabwe that you drink white wine for enjoyment, while red wine is a more serious drink that requires a more developed knowledge of the wine, Wosa marketing manager Matome Mbatha says. “This is why many newcomers to wine are hesitant about moving to reds,” he says. “White wine is considered more suited to partying and socialising and tends to be what people select for such occasions.”

South Africa currently dominates the Zim market with 99% of total wine imports coming from South Africa and the remaining 1% from Spain. “South African wine distributors have been very active when it comes to promoting wine in general and many have increased their listing of various brands in their portfolios,” Matome says. “There’s a strong mindset among Zimbabweans that wine is a great drink for trendy 21st century people, coupled with a growing interest in wine for social events and dining and as a drink that’s more socially acceptable and healthier than beer and spirits.”

In line with international trends, sparkling wine is growing in popularity in Zim. People enjoy the buzz they get from bubbly and associate it with celebratory and social events.

It’s interesting to note that high-income wine drinkers in Zimbabwe who prefer sparkling wine, opt for Prosecco rather than Spanish Cava as they regard the Italian bubbly as the best sparkling wine and even better than champagne.

Want to seize the opportunities Zim offers? Matome recommends brand owners and winemakers visit the country to acquaint themselves with the market. “Brand activation is much needed to grow brand awareness and educate consumers to appreciate wine,” he says. “People in Zimbabwe are keen to become involved in wine groups and learn about wine. There’s for instance a serious lack of understanding that red wine must be served at temperatures much lower than standard room temperature. More and more people are also starting to realise they must enjoy what they drink and not simply follow accepted practices. These examples beg for education through market visits.”

  • The main economic activities in Zimbabwe are mining and agriculture.
  • There’s a strong belief in mermaids in Zimbabwe but they’re often associated with kidnapping, torture and murder, giving them a bad reputation.
  • More than half the people in Zimbabwe are below the age of 21.
  • Zimbabwe means “great house of stones” in the local Chishona language.
  • Zimbabwe is three times the size of England in terms of land area.
  • Zimbabwe is thought to be the location of Ophir, the Biblical land from which King Solomon obtained ivory, gold, peacocks and other precious items.

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