While this year has been marked by inflation, rising duty rates and the cost of living crisis, the approaching festive season offers an opportunity for retailers to boost sales and connect with consumers. Rachel Badham shares tips from the trade on how to make this Christmas a success
“WITH THE COST OF LIVING CRISIS, CREATING RESTAURANT-QUALITY COCKTAILS AT HOME WILL BE POPULAR”
As consumers look to spend less by staying in, Mocktails sales director Harry Furse predicts that the home cocktail craze could see a post-Covid resurgence this Christmas.
“With the cost of living crisis challenging consumers even more over the festive period, creating restaurant-quality cocktails at home will likely be a popular option as drinkers look to save money this Christmas,” says Furse. When it comes to the top cocktails for 2023, Furse champions the Espresso Martini, with Mocktails having recently launched its alcohol-free RTD of the serve.
Sam Thackeray, chief executive of Amber Beverage UK, also recommends that retailers stock up on coffee liqueurs, following rising consumer interest in coffee-based cocktails. “There is so much adaptability in the coffee liqueur cocktail space, which retailers should emphasise to shoppers as they can add any seasonal ingredients in the store cupboard to customise.”
Thackeray’s Christmas cocktail recommendation is “a festive Espresso Martini, made by swapping out the vodka for a spiced rum with a teaspoon of condensed milk for a more creamy texture”.
And while many consumers are looking to expand their mixology skills, the demand for RTDs is expected to remain high over the holidays. Ben Anderson, marketing director at Funkin Cocktails, says: “The busy festive season is all about convenience. The RTD cocktail category has soared in popularity because cocktail drinkers want reassurance that their at-home cocktails will taste just as good as those they enjoy in a bar.”
When curating a range of RTDs, Anderson recommends providing a handful of festive specials alongside evergreen serves. “As well as seasonal stars, retailers should remember to keep the classics stocked up. Consumers will be looking to treat themselves with their favourite tipples too, so it’s important to prioritise flavours with mass appeal.”
“THE KEY IS FOR RETAILERS TO REALLY OFFER THAT BREADTH AND DEPTH OF CHOICE”
Following what could be described as a turbulent year for the trade and consumers alike, it seems that the key to getting this Christmas right is providing shoppers with an extensive range to cater to drinkers of all budgets and preferences. Kingsland’s Taylorson predicts this Christmas will be a “bumper season” for retailers.
“The key is for retailers to really understand how different consumer groups are approaching Christmas drinking occasions and ensure that they are offering that breadth and depth of choice.
“Some will be looking for a premium wine to trade up to something special for a formal dinner, while others with be looking to experiment with new brands and flavours for more informal parties.”
As well as stocking festive favourites, Taylorson emphasises that retailers should be “dedicating sufficient shelf space to categories such as rosé and RTDs.
“By offering a selection of established brands across all price brackets and championing new and trending drinks options, retailers can establish themselves as a go-to destination for festive alcohol purchases.”
“IN BEER, IMPULSE PURCHASING IS A GREAT OPPORTUNITY TO ENCOURAGE CONSUMERS TO TRADE UP”
While beer may not be the first drink to spring to mind when thinking of Christmas, Giles Mountford, drinks marketing manager at Badger Beers, says there is great potential for the category, particularly in the impulse sector. “Impulse purchasing on the way to a festive gathering is a great opportunity for retailers to encourage consumers to trade up,” he says.
“Remember that these consumers will be presenting their purchase to their host, so will probably want something more premium than they would buy for themselves. Just as they wouldn’t pick the cheapest bottle of wine, they will choose beers that are a bit more premium.
“The key is to offer a range of beers that will appeal to these drinkers, refresh displays on shelves and in fridges regularly and make good use of chiller space to maximise drink-it-now purchases.”
When it comes to popular beer styles for the Christmas period, Miriam Thompson, off-trade category development manager for Brewdog, suggests that 2023 will see shoppers lean towards craft beer, as happened in 2022. “Along with summer, Christmas is a key selling period for beer, with the four weeks over Christmas the strongest selling month in the autumn and winter periods.
“Looking specifically at craft beer, Christmas 2022 was a particularly strong year, with the category achieving its best-ever share of beer sales at 7.3% [according to NIQ data]. With many shoppers looking for premium options at this time, craft beer offers retailers a great opportunity to drive sales into a more profitable category.”
To help maximise beer sales, Thompson says that larger multipacks are a shelf essential for shoppers attending Christmas gatherings: “Although eight cans and bigger craft beer packs are an important format all year round, we recommend retailers open offfixture space to accommodate additional large packs during the weeks leading up to Christmas and New Year to ensure stock is available and maximise impulse sales.”