And, thankfully, it’s increasingly seen as acceptable – rather than lazy – to give alcohol, which means it’s a win–win for the consumer. It makes that festive shopping experience easier and more pleasurable and the giftee can breathe a sigh of relief – alcohol at Christmas surely beats socks, scarves or bubble bath.

The word “premium” features a lot at Christmas and certainly gifts of alcohol should have a look of luxury, but there’s been a shift towards stylish – rather than festive – packaging, in order to give some longevity with stocks. Free gifts and glassware have not disappeared but certainly for 2016 many suppliers are focusing more on getting the box or tube right.

Laura Schijvens, brand manager at Indie Brands, says: “We think more brands will focus on gift packs rather than offering a free item. It makes for being more cost effective and not everyone wants a free glass.”

Nick Temperley, head of Diageo Reserve Brands GB, adds: “Listening to consumer demand is key to ensure they are not burdened with leftover festive gift packs come January.”

So what’s in store for this Christmas and which sectors of BWS might see increased footfall for gift shoppers?


Champagne, of course, is a gift that will outshine many others under the Christmas tree, but with its luxury status suppliers are keen to remind retailers that gifting doesn’t have to be limited to the festive weeks.

Lynn Murray, marketing director at Hatch Mansfield and brand manager for Champagne Taittinger, says: “The important consideration for a retailer and suppliers is to carry gifting options that work all year round.” The Taittinger range is available in gift boxes and Brut Reserve in a pack with two glasses.

Wine is another category where people like to trade up at this time of year. For 2016 Treasury Wine Estates is offering Wolf Blass Silver Label and Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz Cabernet in premium gift boxes, priced at £11.99.

“If you present premium wines in premium packaging we are confident it will drive incremental sales, as there is consumer demand to buy wine as a gift,” says Dan Townsend, Europe managing director, TWE.

“There is genuine interest from shoppers in receiving wine as a gift, yet retailers don’t offer enough opportunities to buy wine as a quality gift. Look for suppliers who offer bespoke gifting opportunities and when you find them communicate loudly and frequently among your shoppers about these gifting options.”

Fortified wine sits well in the gifting arena and port specialist Mentzendorff, which represents the Fladgate Partnership, family owner of Taylor’s, Fonseca and Croft ports, has a range of options for Christmas.

This year it will again be offering both its Fonseca and Taylor’s ports in a range of cartons and wooden boxes, including a green wooden box for its aged tawny ports, containing four 50cl bottles of 10, 20, 30 and 40-year-olds, called a Century of Port. It also has some added value offerings to help serve vintage port, which requires decanting.

Andrew Hawes, managing director, says: “Christmas is one of the most important trading periods for port so we need to invest in our customers and our brands to maximise our presence on shelf. We want to ensure we offer added value to our portfolio, which attracts consumers to our brands and creates port ambassadors for the future.”


One area where suppliers have been investing heavily is in premium spirits.

Guy Dodwell, sales director for off-trade at Diageo, says 32% of all super-premium sales occur over the 12 weeks of Christmas.

Temperley at Diageo adds: “By not only stocking consumer favourites, but also offering a range of super-premium spirits such as Tanqueray 10, Cîroc vodka and Talisker, retailers are able to capitalise on the opportunity to upsell when consumers are feeling most generous.”

This year the producer has limited-edition bottles for its Tanqueray and Johnnie Walker Blue Label brands.

Pernod Ricard UK also has a selection of seasonal gift boxes and miniature packs for brands including Absolut, Malibu, Jameson, Chivas Regal, Martell and The Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve. It is also introducing a new gift box for The Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve, an Absolut Create the Classics gift pack (with Absolut Raspberri, Vanilia and Citron), and a Jameson & Ginger Ale gift pack.

James Middleton, channel director for impulse, says: “The festive period presents a key opportunity to drive trade-up, and retailers that clearly offer the ability to premiumise with a sense of treat will win this year.”

Indie Brands also has a selection for Christmas, including Brockmans gin in a black gift tube, La Hechicera rum in a gift box and Matusalem rum with a free gift and glass.

Pirate’s Grog Rum created the Pirate’s Grog Gift Chest for Christmas two years ago, and it’s gone from strength to strength, according to marketing director Beth Jones.

“We wanted to create the perfect gift for any rum lover so set about making a unique hand-crafted wooden chest to house a bottle of Pirate’s Grog Five Year, a book about the history of rum and personalised wax-sealed scroll. This has proved popular both online and in high-end retailers, such as Harvey Nichols.”

Meanwhile, Chase Distillery has launched an advent calendar. It’s a premium option at £130 but it contains 24x5cl miniatures of 14 William Chase products, including Williams GB gin, Chase vodka, Chase Marmalade vodka and Limoncello. The calendar is available from retailers including John Lewis and Selfridges.


Gifting is definitely a growing category, says Schijvens at Indie Brands. “The category is getting bigger as the consumer demands more and brands fight for shelf space. It helps a brand get noticed and it’s a much easier option for the undecided consumer to be attracted by something in a box or gift tube rather than just a bottle.”

Pirate’s Grog’s Jones says the company is seeing more sites such as Not On The High Street pop up. “It shows consumers are searching for more unique gifting options. Customer demands are growing and personalisation of gifts has become the norm, which makes it more challenging for suppliers but exciting to be a part of as new standards are being set all the time.”

Tiny Treats: Miniatures

Indie Brands’ Laura Schijvens says she expects to see more premium spirits in smaller sizes in future. “These give trial at an affordable price and are more appealing in the gifting presentation in the smaller pack sizes rather than simply a 70cl bottle,” she says. “20cl, 35cl and 50cl options will increasingly be considered by some brands.”

Some suppliers are already going down this route. Pernod has a Malibu Piña Colada gift pack and Absolut and Malibu miniature tree decoration gift packs exclusive to the impulse channel.

Meanwhile, Patron says its 5cl bottles of Patrón Silver (£7.95) and Patrón XO Cafe (£5.25) are the “perfect stocking fillers” for ultra-premium tequila fans.

And Beth Jones at Pirate’s Grog says this year it has developed and premiumised its miniatures gift set, which will showcase all three rum variations, the original Five Year recipe, the single cask 13-year-aged limited- edition Pirate’s Grog No. 13, and the new Black Ei8ht Coffee Rum.

“We know the miniatures are best- sellers throughout the Christmas period, making great stocking fillers, so this seemed like a natural move to make in terms of product development,” adds Jones.

“Miniatures are a great way to introduce the brand and the products and enable people to choose their favourite before they purchase a larger bottle.”

Nick Temperley at Diageo says retailers should offer consumers super- premium gift choices at multiple price points.

“The Johnnie Walker 20cl gift pack does just that. Despite being a smaller bottle, the gift pack’s beautifully designed packaging ensures it has a prominent shelf presence, appealing to discerning gift buyers.”