Festive bonanza

Festive drinks

Christmas is always a time to rejoice, and consumers’ appetite to spend during the festivities seems unabated.

By Elena Dimama

Christmas is the biggest socialising occasion of the year for many consumers, despite the current challenging financial times.

Drink opportunities are front of mind alongside big dining experiences throughout the festive season, offering retailers the chance to end the year on a high. In Scotland, alcohol’s growth as a category overall has grown by 7.65% year-on-year (52 w/e October 2023), according to TWC.

Wines and spirits has become the second-biggest category, accounting for a share in excess of 10%; in GB cider has grown by 4.5%, driven by traditional, flavoured and premium ciders. In Scotland, the cider category is also experiencing growth of 1.8% along with the wine category, rising by 2.4% and accounting for 27.5% share.

Mindful drinking

The low- and no-alcohol trend shows no signs of slowing down. Heineken’s research from 2022 showed that 41% would be looking for lower alcohol or alcohol-free options to drink at Christmas, with a whopping 55% of those being Gen-Z consumers.

In Scotland, low- and no-alcohol accounted for more than £565,000-worth of sales in the alcohol category this year, according to TWC. In Lager, low and no is also seeing strong growth of 35.6% year-on-year, along with wine, where low and no is experiencing a huge 132.5% growth. Finally, spirits and RTDs are seeing limited sales in low and no, at £8,000 value sales for the total year ending 8 October 2023.

Alexander Wilson, Category & Commercial Strategy Director at Heineken, notes: “As stated in our 2030 Brew A Better World ambitions, we believe in empowering consumers by providing a choice, transparency and zero tolerance for the abuse of alcohol.

“We will continue to invest in our No & Low alcohol portfolio to make it even easier for consumers to reach for such options, depending on their preference and the occasion. Whenever a consumer encounters one of our beers or ciders, we want to make sure there is an alcohol-free option proudly sitting alongside.”

Premium grows

Despite the cost-of-living crisis, Christmas is still seen as an occasion for which consumers could spend a little more for a premium product, either as a gift or to share.

“Premium offerings are growing despite the cost-of-living crisis,” Wilson notes. “While shoppers are attempting to make savings across large expenditures, such as household bills or eating out, smaller purchases like alcohol are one area where consumers are happy to spend a little more.”

The brand expects premiumisation to continue to grow this Christmas, as lager grew by 10.6% already in the last quarter, according to Nielsen.

Multipacks and impulse

Looking for value for money will still be incredibly important this festive season, with multipacks playing a crucial role.

“Larger multi-packs are especially important to ensure shoppers can keep their home supply stocked up for the Christmas period,” Calli O’Brien, Head of Marketing at Aston Manor Cider, explains.

“Product packs, such as the pint cans in our Crumpton Oaks four-pack, prove popular but also enable consumers to keep their supply stocked up with single-serve options.”

Heineken’s Wilson adds: “We are seeing smaller multipacks – such as small and mid-packs growing their share of spend and expect this trend to continue over the coming months as many look to continue shopping but with a more restricted budget.”

Impulse also has a key role to play this festive season too, with one-third of shoppers, for example, only ever buying cider in cans, according to Mintel.

“When a shopper buys cider on impulse, having it chilled and ready to drink are often more important than price, however, promotions still play an important role in communicating value for money that will help to win longer-term customer loyalty,” O’Brien says.

He adds: “Alongside pack formats and product availability, retailers should also be conscious of the challenges of the cost-of-living crisis.

“With rising food and drink prices being the top concern for almost half (49%) of shoppers, Aston Manor Cider has introduced a new range of Frosty Jack’s pack formats, offering more affordability to customers as shoppers look to tighten their belts.”

Festive convenience

Being able to enjoy or offer an easy drinking solution is yet another key factor retailers should consider this Christmas period.

“Throughout Christmas, shoppers are on the lookout for premium quality, yet convenient options to entertain guests and enjoy themselves,” Amy Burgess, Senior Trade Communications Manager at Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP), explains. “Alcoholic ready-to-drink or premix cocktails are a great solution, offering hosts a convenient way to deliver a perfect serve every time, without the need for time-consuming mixing and preparation.”

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This publication contains images and information relating to tobacco products. Please do not view if you are under the age of 18 years old.

This website contains images and information relating to tobacco products. Please do not view if you are under 18 years of age.

This website contains images and information relating to tobacco products. Please do not view if you are under 18 years of age.

This publication contains images and information relating to tobacco products. Please do not view if you are under the age of 18 years old.