Spirit of the season

Happy drinkers

The spirits market shows certain common trends through the summer and with a growing thirst for recreating the bar experience at home, retailers stand in a strong position to take advantage, even with Scotland’s unhelpful licensing restrictions.


Spirits companies in the past may have been guilty of favouring the on-trade when it came to support, but that’s changed in the last few years, and the benefits of having a strong spirits section can make an enormous difference to a retailer’s takings – and high value sales with a decent margin are exactly what retailers should be pushing. And it’s pushing to a willing audience.

To help, Maxxium launched a new guide to maximising spirits profits specifically in the impulse channel.

Know Your Store, which is based on insight into how convenience shoppers buy their spirits, is a 5-step guide to building business and supports the independent retailer to grow overall sales.

Following a collaboration with independent research agency, him! Maxxium UK has identified that a retailer who can convert 10 existing shoppers into spirits shoppers every week could generate an additional £5,699 spend per year. The firm behind spirits brands such as The Famous Grouse, The Macallan, Jim Beam and Stolichnaya, Maxxium is a firm with a heavy presence in the off-trade.

Plans afoot as Martell turns 300

The oldest major cognac house in the world has been celebrating its 300th anniversary. To celebrate, from this month, products within Martell’s established portfolio will feature either a celebratory neck-collar or gift box and will be available across grocery, wholesale and impulse channels. This will be followed by a series of activity, including: a packaging re-design that will be rolled-out across the range in various stages; new technologies to drive awareness of Cognac in the off-trade that will be both innovative and disruptive; and the introduction of exclusive limited edition products that will only be available in select outlets.

According to Know Your Store, spirits shoppers spend more time and money in convenience stores, spending on average over £10 more than other shoppers. To help retailers make the most of this opportunity the guide covers key issues, from identifying an outlet’s customer base to revamping the merchandising structure. Know Your Store also offers category insight, the latest on trends and also tips and advice on how to make the shopping experience more convenient.

Customer Marketing Controller, Chris Richardson, says: “Know Your Store has been designed with input from retailers to ensure that it is easy to use. It will help customers analyse their business and secure untapped spirits sales.”

The guide explains that success starts with getting to know customers and what they are looking for. Meeting shopper needs by stocking the right products will keep customers coming back. It also identifies that merchandising is key, with almost 80% of spirits shoppers keen to see commonly purchased items, such as gin, ice and lemons, merchandised together. It recommends using point of sale to highlight complementary items to make store visits easier for the customer and more profitable for the retailer.

Know Your Store encourages retailers to review their spirits range regularly and refer to the guide to re-design their merchandising planogram. The guide also suggests that retailers identify their point of difference to make them stand out from the competition.

Chris Richardson says: “Through Know Your Store, Maxxium UK is helping retailers provide the best impact in store and become specialists in spirits. We have used our expertise and insight to provide practical advice to help retailers increase spirits sales by thousands of pounds each year.”

Johnnie takes a walk through Edinburgh
Johnnie Walker Blue Label whisky

Luxury Blended Scotch Whisky Johnnie Walker Blue Label has created two City Edition bottles which capture the essence of two iconic UK cities: London and Edinburgh. Just 4,000 bottles will be available exclusively to outlets in Great Britain, each featuring their own hand written number.

The Edinburgh Edition bottle is created to capture the essence of the historic city set in the heart of Scotland, the homeland of both the brand and Scotch whisky. The bespoke design creates a sweeping, spiral flow from the peak of Edinburgh Castle, including national treasures such as the Scott Monument and the Duke of Wellington alongside the city’s cobbled streets and walls.

At £199 a bottle, this one is strictly for the specialists.

Diageo is another of the major drinks firms continuing its support for the off-trade. This summer the company is undertaking a huge marketing plan on many of its key brands.

“Over the last three years consumers have increased their spending in convenience by 13%, topping up their baskets with unplanned, last minute purchases,” says Patricia Mota, Category Development Manager RTM/Convenience GB. “These last minute purchases hold one of the biggest opportunities for retailers to unlock sales, particularly in spirits.”

Mota points out that retailers can increase spirits sales through small changes – for example by selling an additional two 70cl spirits per week, there could be a 10% growth within the whole category.

Pimm’s is intrinsically linked to British summertime and as such, it’ll once again it’ll be in the spotlight. “Last year we outsold other specialty spirit brands three-fold, increasing our market share from 21% to 46%,” says Joanna Segesser, Marketing Manager, Diageo GB. “Customers should further capitalise on this seasonal popularity by not only stocking classic Pimm’s and Pimm’s Blackberry and Elderflower, but also offering our new flavour innovation, Pimm’s Strawberry with a Hint of Mint.”

Another brand set for a major boost this summer is Captain Morgan, which is entering the white rum sector. Captain Morgan White Rum is aimed at recruiting new consumers into the category by making white rum more relevant for 25 to 35 year olds.

Diageo’s summer tips:

  1. Stock the right range for your shopper and the mission they are on – something for tonight, ready to serve, smaller sizes (50cl, 35cl and 20cl), PMP and pre-mix
  2. Ensure your spirits display behind the counter is clearly laid out
    • Group categories together (all vodka together, all gin together etc)
    • Block vertically so that the shopper can see the full category rather than having to scan left to right to find products
    • Place higher priced and premium products above value products.
  3. Bring top selling spirits brands onto open sale on the shop floor to allow shoppers on a ‘something for tonight’ mission to access what they want easily.