Editor’s Note: This blog was originally published by Snooper App. Snooper App was acquired by Wiser Solutions in 2022 and this blog has been revised and repurposed for a global audience. A version of this blog is also published in National Liquor News.
The Spring Races to New Year period is traditionally the highest liquor sales period of the year. December 2021 saw some of the highest liquor turnover on record. Given that the eastern seaboard of Australia emerged from lockdowns prior to the festive season, while not exactly returning to entertaining with gusto, how similar might the October to December 2022 season look compared to 2021?
Here we look at off-premise store activations in 2021 using our “How to win during key selling periods” report series, to provide a potential heads-up on what’s in store for the 2022 festive season.
With increasing competition and limited space in stores, brands need to maximize touchpoints and fight for their share of visibility outside the aisle to disrupt shoppers’ paths to purchase and inspire them during key selling periods.
Each year, Wiser Solutions, via its Snooper App, analyzes in-store execution, particularly off-location displays, during this important period. We assessed the share of display by category, measured which brands over-indexed in off-location space, and evaluated the most impactful activations from a shopper-centric perspective. Below are some findings from our 100 Days of Summer report, with some implications for this year.
Occasion Tailoring Improves
There’s evidence brands are increasingly leveraging the best occasions to play in for their categories. Within the October to January period, Wiser defines a set of mini-seasons or key selling periods, and different brands take the stage in each according to their role in the consumer occasion.
While Spring Races remains a relatively untapped occasion, the Festive Season during December is mostly about gifting, entertaining, and socializing.
Some categories, like spirits, are capitalizing on the Festive occasion and we saw an increase in off-location investments. The share of display for the spirit category was indeed highest during the festive season, through gifting and limited edition displays. Of particular note in 2021 were Johnny Walker, Baileys, and Aperol displays.
For gifting in 2022, we anticipate that the physical store will become even more important given the continuous increase of multi-category displays and gifting stations over the past three years.
Although the average number of displays remained constant in national chains in 2020 and 2021, 2021 saw a continuation of the decrease in theming that we observed and reported in 2020.
Allied to this was an increase in retailer multicategory displays, often multi-branded gifting zones. This resulted in a decrease in branded displays overall. Sparkling wine in 2021 particularly saw more multicategory displays than in 2020.
As with the prior years, while location remained the number one lever for impactful displays for our shoppers, with size of display second. But theming is third. And theming is ranked as significantly more important during the festive season than at other times of the year as shoppers look for inspiration, with or without a price discount.
Within branded displays, there were some interesting trends per category.
Wine was the most off-located category in 2021 across the four “mini seasons,” with displays for smaller brands particularly noted during spring racing. Given that 2021 saw increased alcohol consumption with much of the country stuck at home unable to travel, this may well look different in 2022 since travel has opened right up and consumer spend moves into other categories and sectors. Allied to the spend shift, in 2022 rising costs of living may also see shoppers trading down to less premium brands.
RTD saw a battle between vodka and whiskey, with Jack Daniels displays strong in three of the four periods.
Meanwhile, Seltzer display presence continued to grow. In 2021, Seltzers were bigger than gin premix in BWS and Dan Murphy, and looked set to overtake rum premix. We can expect to see this continue in 2022.
Along with the reduction in theming, shopper preferences for functionality over festivity also appeared to be increasing, with the most preferred—and prevalent—promotional mechanic for gifting being gift with purchase (GWP), followed by festive packaging (which was down versus 2020) and then limited editions. GWPs were particularly preferred if the “gift” was related to the product and was practical. Personalization remains top of mind but is not a key driver.
All in all, 2021 was a practical, pragmatic Spring/Summer season in liquor stores and for shoppers. Let’s see if the 2022 Spring/Summer period can inject a little more fun and experience for shoppers—a little more of the “joy of Christmas”—as they seek to celebrate the new normal.