Customers are trading up. When money is tighter all round, regardless of whether we’re “officially” in recession or austerity or not, we save our cash for the little luxuries, and will spend more on fewer, better purchases. This reason alone explains why overall beer volume has been in decline over the past decade, but craft, since being included in both on and off-trade statistics (both covered by CGA and Nielsen), has seen year on year growth, at a higher price per litre than mass-market competition (macro brewer lager, or otherwise).
What your portfolio says about you:
As engaged buyers, managers and leaders, when was the last time you examined your portfolio? How many lagers, gins, ales do you have, and crucially, what’s selling and what isn’t? The trend for craft beer and premium gins (which both aren’t going away BTW), leads us all to think we should have a broad and complex set of bottles in our fridges and on our shelves – but how many are selling? And in what volume? How are those brands supporting you? Do you have POS, staff training, mixer matching experiences with your teams? And if not, why not?! Your direct or distribution suppliers should be falling over themselves to offer education and training support to you – and if they’re not, there’s plenty out there that are.
Ask yourselves these questions:
- What are my key ranges? – be it spirits, wine, craft beers, macro lagers etc.
- Look at the sales data – which is selling, which isn’t?
- What suppliers will offer support to turn brands around, or increase the already great volume you’re producing for them?
- What ranges do you not cater to at all? – Craft Beer is getting close to 10% of the market in the UK, 1 in 10 people will be looking for one as their first choice, and will be disappointed if they can’t have something akin to this category.
- What ranges are you over-catering to? Are their 10 premium gins on your back bar, but only 5 sell in any decent volume – can you change the others up? Can you remove them altogether and engage in other up-and-coming areas of the spirit world?
- Do you have a non-alcoholic option in all categories? Yes – it’s easier than ever to cater to customers who want to both have the same taste experience as their colleagues, friends and families, but don’t want to feel left out with, let’s face it the boring option of mainstream soft drinks.
Ultimately, trial and error will lead you to a better place – unless, that is, you think about engaging your consumer base – my final thought here is to go directly to the source. Not all consumer opinion is valid, but accept feedback on a wide enough range, and you’ll find some patterns in what you could and should offer.