Category Snapshot: Beer, Wine & Spirits Q4 2017


Category Snapshot:

BWS Q4 2017

 ‘Tis the season to be jolly, and with party season in full swing, brands tend to go big at Christmas both with media and promotions. However, with more and more consumers drinking less alcohol [The Grocer, Alcohol report 2017], how did brands combat this and make sure that shoppers are still getting merry over the festive period?

in the Christmas spirit

The BWS category was one of the categories with the strongest growth this Christmas, growing 5.7% vs last year [Nielsen]. This was considerably driven by premium spirits sales, with shoppers trading up to brands or products they might not have tried at any other times of the year. Using recipe inspiration is a great way to do this, particularly when making cocktails at home has increased by 23% this year. Brands should make sure that when suggesting recipe content, all items are easy to pick up in-store, for example by merchandising them all together, ensuring customers don’t switch to a cheaper alternative at the last minute. Online is great for this as you can purchase all items with one click on a banner.

fanatic about flavours

Branding is especially important within this category, as it’s a huge deciding factor for shoppers in this category. To stand out from competitors, some brands used media to showcase the flavour of the drink within for example, showing the spices and seeds that were used to distil the liquid. Others looked to suggest the perfect meal pairing based on the taste profile of the drink. This is a great example of driving awareness as well as educating shoppers on what the beverage is complementary to. Soft drink brands such as Fever Tree have previously done this very well, leveraging flavour to make sure they are the mixer of choice and it’s great to see alcoholic brands using a similar method to encourage purchase through education and complete meal solutions.

the 3 s’, space, shippers & six sheets

With more BWS sales going through the till during this festive quarter, brands should ensure they have sufficient stock in store to cater for the increased demand. Using secondary space such as gondola ends, shippers and pallets are a great way to help with availability, not to mention increased visibility around store. However, brands should be careful not to de-value their brands with a “pile ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap” tactic. Bespoke branded shippers with the ability to carry a brand message and creative are a better way at doing this. We recommend supporting this with other branded media like six sheets to further highlight the brand positioning.


the Super Six: retailer comparison

When comparing the BWS aisle in a similar timeframe in the Super Six a few observations can be made:

Retailers varied quite a lot in terms of what went on in the aisle this quarter. Whilst Morrisons and Co-op chose to focus their media on giving shoppers inspiration either through recipe content or food pairing suggestions, Asda used media such as hotspots to encourage spirits as a gift this Christmas – an eye catching secondary display which creates stand out in a busy aisle. Tesco focused their media on encouraging shoppers to stock up and increase their basket spend with a multi-buy promotion. Some Tesco stores have had their BWS section updated to have more of an independent off-licence look and feel, which despite deep discounts, helps the category still feel premium. This re-fit, is very much in-line with the growth of independent labels in the category, whilst many of the categories in store face range rationalisation, craft beers are in a different league with all supermarkets increasing their range. Waitrose extended their range by 27% this year, to a total of 95 different beers! But with so many different brands to choose from smaller brands should make sure they invest in media to stand out from the crowd.

key learnings

An extremely busy period for the beers, wines and spirits category with a huge amount of media driving a successful quarter of category growth. With so much noise going on in-store, it can be difficult for brands to stand out. BWS brands should make sure they are thinking carefully about how they activate in this period, looking at more unique ways to create cut through in a busy shopper space such as with consumption ideas or dialling up flavour profiles.

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