New insights from Shopper Intelligence have revealed major shifts in consumer behaviour in the liquor channel. During a recent webinar – “Off prem 2021: A smarter way to influence the shopper journey” – Shopper Intelligence experts Simon Ford, David Shukri and Ming Lianto shared the latest shopper data, which shows the big changes in liquor categories and the importance of tailoring marketing to particular channels and retailers.
Another big focus of the session was on how Australian liquor retailers and suppliers can work together to tackle commercial challenges in the coming year.
“Obviously it’s been a massive year, particularly for liquor in terms of sales,” said Ford in his opening remarks. “And yet, there’s been a bit of concern from the shopper in terms of satisfaction levels.
“It’s a big reason to sit up and listen to the shopper this year more than any other year.”
Lianto explained that shoppers are less happy with their experience, with satisfaction levels going backwards for the first time in five years. While overall satisfaction levels were down 2%, two Coles banners – Vintage Cellars and First Choice (pictured main) – as well as ALDI and IGA, saw a rise in satisfied customers.
“IGA was up 8% in customer satisfaction,” Lianto said. “They’ve done really, really well. IGA had a good chance to show us what they could do during the lockdowns and played really well into the local community and local authenticity around their banner.”
Metcash revealed earlier this week that wholesale sales to the IBA retail banner group increased 22.6% with strong growth in Cellarbrations, the Bottle-O, IGA Liquor, Duncans, Thirsty Camel, Liquor@, Big Bargain and Porters. It said the strong sales growth was buoyed by an increase in customer preference for local neighbourhood shopping, home consumption substituting ‘on-premise’ consumption and less overseas travel and duty-free sales.
When it came to satisfaction with store layout and ability to find what they want in categories, Shopper Intelligence saw huge variations at banner level. BWS was down, while Vintage Cellars was up.
Coles will be expecting its lead to grow as it continues to roll out the new Vintage Cellars trial format (above), which was launched with the Lygon Street store in Melbourne last year.
The store is an evolution of the existing Vintage Cellars format, offering customers an enhanced shopping experience, with a better range and a bright and contemporary feel. It’s been designed with simplified signage and improved navigation to assist customers in choosing the right product, while also allowing them to ‘meet the makers’ behind their favourite wine, beer or spirit.
The fight to be best in class
Ford said the key to successful collaboration between suppliers and retailers was to avoid following a one-size-fits-all approach.
He revealed that a senior executive at a major retailer told him: “I want suppliers to understand my shopper and proactively come to us with their strategy, not just make products that fit our strategy.”
There is a genuine desire from retailers to have suppliers come to their business and not just mirror the retail strategy with their products and plans, but help them drive it and deliver it.
Ford urged suppliers to move towards integrated planning that included category thinking, together with brand planning and alignment with retailers that gets them involved in the process early.
“And remember to talk to their shopper, not just a shopper,” he said.
He noted that another retailer had told him: “When suppliers come in with data from another retailer as a proxy for my customers I get very frustrated.”
The change in shopper behaviour
Lianto said there was more decision making taking place in store during the past 12 months, together with big changes in the occasions prompting purchase.
Premix and spirits, for example, were more likely to be bought to consume with a meal than ever before, so messaging needed to be more compelling to hook into these new occasions.
She also gave the example of vodka premixes, with shoppers less likely to plan to buy the category before heading into the store than they were 12 months ago.
However, there were big differences between banners. At IGA, impulse buying of vodka premixes was up 16%, emphasising the need for in-store engagement, signage and communication on shelf. There was also a sharp rise in purchase for “relaxing at home”, up 14%.
At First Choice, it was “completely the opposite”, bucking the trend for the category. The decision to buy before going to the store was up 11%, with the biggest occasion motivator being “drinking with a meal”, up 12%.
“So upweight pre-store communications to trigger purchase via catalogue and invest in TV and poster ads,” Lianto suggested. She noted that catalogues were the biggest trigger for purchase among First Choice customers.
Watch the full webinar below: