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Pernod: premium spirits to lead festive sales

Absolut owner Pernod Ricard has highlighted premium-plus spirits as a key sales driver for UK retailers this Christmas.

Pernod Ricard UK
Pernod Ricard owns brands such as Absolut, Malfy Gin, Malibu and Kahlúa

Citing Nielsen on-trade data, Pernod Ricard said it has become the fastest share-gaining wine and spirits supplier in the UK, after growing value sales by 13.7% and market share by 2.7%.

The company highlighted four brands that experienced strong value share gains within their respective categories: Absolut Vodka (35.3%), Malibu liqueur (17%), Irish whiskey Jameson (16.9%) and Havana Club rum (6.2%).

Pernod Ricard is also confident that premium-plus spirits will drive sales for convenience retailers and is urging stores to focus on gifting and hosting.

The company said the category has delivered consistent double-digit value growth in the past year.

Pernod Ricard also believes premium-plus spirits will play an ‘important role’ in the gifting occasion as they are viewed as affordable.

The company cited a Mintel report that found 80% of shoppers agree that food and drink are good options as affordable gifts.

It said retailers should provide gifting options as early as October as some consumers will spread the cost of Christmas across a number of months.

For the off-trade, Pernod Ricard will focus on five brands: Absolut, Malfy Gin, Malibu, Altos Tequila and Jameson.

Citing Pinterest Predicts 2022 data, Pernod Ricard noted that searches for cocktail inspiration skyrocketed by 555%.

Chris Shead, off-trade channel director at Pernod Ricard UK, said: “We’re hugely excited for Christmas 2023 as it’s time for premium spirits to reclaim the occasion after beer dominated during last year’s football World Cup.

“In the current economic climate, we are anticipating a significant shift to the off-trade as consumers choose to host at home and manage budgets.

“This presents a huge opportunity for our customers and winning in cocktails remains the key to success.

“For the convenience channel, premium-plus spirits offer a point of difference, as the larger supermarkets are increasingly challenged by discounters.”

Pernod Ricard UK has put together a list of five festive serves that can easily be created using basic ingredients and cocktail equipment at home.

Cocktails include an Espresso Martini made with Absolut, a Spritz using Malfy Gin Rosa, a Malibu-based Piña Colada, an Altos Margarita and a Jameson Old Fashioned.

On-trade priorities   

Pernod Ricard has increased its investment in the Christmas period by more than a third since 2019, according to James Bremner, UK on-trade channel director.

“Our approach this year is to launch innovative and exciting pre-order packages, with a focus on sustainability, land even more footfall driving festive serves and work with our customers to deliver best-in-class brand experiences,” he added.

The company revealed three ‘profit-driving’ solutions for the on-trade this year: pre-order packages, focus on festive serves and yuletide experiences.

To drive footfall with pre-order packages, Absolut has partnered with Ecologi to plant a tree for every Absolut Cocktail Tree sold in the UK on-trade between 1 November and 31 December.

Last year, the company planted more than 4,000 trees after it implemented a similar initiative and it hopes to surpass this target in 2023.

Pernod Ricard also noted that the value of the cocktail market has continued to rise over the past 12 months, growing by 8% in value, with 57% of consumers drinking cocktails as a treat.

As such, Pernod said it needs to ‘offer something above and beyond’ when it comes to cocktails.

Last year, Pernod Ricard UK delivered close to 650,000 ‘unique’ festive serves.

With 79% of premium cocktail consumers likely to pay more for a better-quality cocktail, Pernod Ricard plans to deliver 30% more festive serves this year.

The company will focus on serves such as the Absolut Polar Espresso Martini, served with a festive golden ticket; Absolut Merry Kissmass, with a rice paper lipstick kiss topper; Havana Club Golden Swizzler, with traditional chocolate gold coins; Malibu Baubellini, with edible glitter, and a Jameson Black Barrel Gingerbread Old Fashioned.

The company is also currently working with several partners on the design of ‘bespoke’ yuletide experiences this year, including bauble and biscuit decorating, and wreath making.

Pernod Ricard’s sales in the UK grew by 2% in the year ending 30 June 2023.

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