Spirits brands must embrace online shopping

14th July, 2012 by Becky Paskin

British consumers are swapping supermarkets for convenience stores and online shops to purchase alcohol, as a result of rising fuel prices.

First Drinks Market Report 2012

The First Drinks Market Report 2012 has highlighted authenticity, convenience shopping and flavour experimentation as key growth drivers in the UK spirits industry

According to the second annual market report by William Grant & Sons’ subsidiary First Drinks, Brits make more online purchases than any other European country.

“With over a quarter of UK consumers buying their groceries online, online shopping is expected to double over the next 10 years so we see a real opportunity for spirits brands in this very viable channel,” said Una McCullough, marketing director for First Drinks.

With at home consumption set to continue for the foreseeable future, the company has urged spirit brands to ‘embrace the opportunity’ online shopping provides.

“Research shows 20% of spirits drinkers claim to entertain guests at home weekly or more often, which is higher than the national average,” she added. “Spirit drinkers are quite sociable and they are looking to replicate the quality of drinks they have tried in the on-trade at home, and technology will continue to play a key role there.”

In addition, First Drinks has cited convenience stores as a key channel that’s expected to grow by £10bn over the next four years.

“We’re starting to see that already through consumer shopping habits,” said Roy Summers, head of category management at First Drinks. “Rising petrol prices are encouraging many consumers to shop locally and we can see this through increased frequency. Convenience remains a huge opportunity for spirits.”

The company has identified several key growth drivers in the off-trade, which include gifting, value and major events, the latter of which can see sales increase by up to as much as 20%.

Cocktails and authenticity

In the on-trade, First Drinks has identified flavour experimentation, premiumisation and authenticity of product as key elements for growth.

The most popular flavours for cocktails identified by the group are herbal, almond, vanilla, elderflower, liquorice, caramel, chilli, cinnamon and raspberry, with the most popular cocktails drunk by men remaining whisky-based such as the Old Fashioned and Manhattan.

Cocktails are now served in 76% of bars and restaurants in the UK, with drinkers willing to pay between £5-£7 for a drink.

And while consumers are willing to trade up to premium brands as a treat, the authenticity of those brands is becoming more pivotal to their choice.

“Premium ties are being outpaced by the experience of the offering, authenticity and quality,” McCullough added. “Luxury is out of fashion and we see a revival in heritage and provenance.”

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