Overall satisfaction in the off-premise channel has risen again in the latest view from Shopper Intelligence, but the average liquor shopper still wants more in terms of healthy choices and innovation.
Our research, conducted from August 2019 to February 2020, revealed net satisfaction in liquor rose by 1.5% to 67% year on year. The biggest improvements have come from the areas of execution – which includes availability and layout – and assortment, made up of measures including range and innovation.
By contrast, there was more modest improvement in terms of price and product.
There were mixed fortunes on some of the big industry trends driving retailer and suppliers strategies today.
While shoppers reported an increase in satisfaction with the delivery of premium options in the channel, they were less positive about the level of appealing new ideas and healthy choices.
Health actually went backwards year-on-year and was the fastest declining area of performance in three of the five product departments (beer, wine and spirits).
Younger, female shoppers were especially dissatisfied in this area compared to the previous year and unplanned liquor shoppers also registered a decline in satisfaction with healthy choices.
Generational shift in occasion shopping
We saw a continuation of the trend for the younger liquor shopper to buy liquor for short-term consumption and with a particular occasion in mind. More than 80% of 18-24 year olds plan to consume their purchase within a few hours and nearly 60% said they bought for a specific drinking occasion, such as a barbecue, to give as a gift or to drink with a meal.
By contrast, just one in five shoppers over the age of 55 buys for an occasion – as opposed to stocking up or to drink while relaxing at home – and fewer than one in three intends to consume within a few hours of purchase.
While we also see the ongoing impact of moderation and abstinence among younger drinkers – 18-24 year olds have the lowest trip frequency of any age group – they are nevertheless a valuable cohort, over-indexing significantly in terms of basket spend versus older generations.
What’s more, this group is significantly more interested in both healthy and responsible drinking options, so the future growth of the channel very much lies in recognising these needs and delivering to them more effectively.
Interestingly, from a total liquor perspective we have witnessed a small shift back towards everyday drinking missions and away from shopping for a particular occasion.
Those who said they buy for everyday drinking now account for two in three off-premise shoppers, but what is especially striking is the stark difference in attitude and approach between this group and the third of people who do have a specific occasion in mind.
The everyday drinking group are strong traffic drivers, focused on not running out of their chosen liquor and highly likely to show loyalty to a retailer that executes well. Consequently, pre-store engagement and strong basics in-store (good availability, simple ranging) are vital to attract and retain this shopper.
Conversely, the occasion-driven liquor shopper is orientated towards new ideas or innovations and willing to trade up for better quality. The in-store environment is just as important here, but more so because it needs to be interesting, enticing and appealing to capture the attention of this group.
In terms of their needs the two groups also differ massively, with occasion shoppers placing more importance on authenticity, healthy choices and drinking responsibly, while the everyday drinker is much more focused on price and value. Numerically speaking, this group is obviously more significant, but in reality this is less about picking one over the other to target and actually a question of implementing multiple well-honed strategies simultaneously.
There is no indication we’ll see a return to the higher levels of consumption that were prevalent in previous decades, so the ability of retailers and suppliers to pinpoint specific shopper groups with surgical precision will be an important determinant of success in the years to come.
We’ll be discussing the latest performance on key liquor trends in more detail during a free webinar on June 17, 2020. We’ll also be looking more closely at how the liquor shopper mindset is changing today and sharing some thoughts on what all this means for liquor businesses looking to maximise their performance in the off-premise channel.
David Shukri is Senior Insight Director at Shopper Intelligence