Key categories stocked up? Check. Chillers in working order? Check. But what else can retailers do to gain an edge this summer? Nigel Huddleston asks the experts
BE A MATCHMAKER
In addition to drink, food is a key element of most summer get-togethers, and passing on food pairing tips through POS or social media can generate extra sales.
Kevin Fawell, off -trade sales director at Molson Coors, offers some brand and food matches for beer and cider that could be adapted by retailers to suit equivalent brands they sell.
“Staropramen’s hoppy, malty flavour makes it an ideal accompaniment to a host of different meat dishes, including burgers, chicken and steak,” he says. “Aspall cider can complement chicken and salmon dishes, as well as lighter salads. Blue Moon is brewed with orange and coriander, which makes it light enough to work well with foods such as salads, shellfish and delicate fish dishes, but also robust enough to work with the bolder flavours found in spicy Mexican or Thai recipes.”
Lucie Parker, wholesale director at Jeroboams Trade, has these barbecue wine-matching tips: “Dry Clare Valley Riesling for seafood and some juicy Barossa Shiraz for sausages.
“If you’re doing fancy, Big Green Egg beef or slow cooked pork, upgrade your Malbec.
“We have seen movement for wines such as those from our new agencies, Kaesler in Australia and Achaval Ferrer of Argentina, and expect to see more of the same over the summer.”
WIDEN YOUR EVENT HORIZONS
There may not be a big men’s international football tournament but there are plenty of other events that offer opportunities for drinks promotions this summer.
Last year’s late men’s football World Cup pushed the domestic and European seasons back, so this year’s men’s FA Cup Final is on June 3 and the Champions League Final is a week later. The Women’s World Cup is being played in Australia and New Zealand from July 20-August 20. The Ashes in men’s cricket starts on June 16 and concludes at the end of July, while Wimbledon runs from July 3-16. And before you know it, the 2023/24 men’s Premier League football season kicks off on August 12.
There are also numerous days celebrating different drinks: World Gin Day is on June 10, Beer Day Britain on June 15 and Prosecco Day on August 13.
Scott Cameron, senior brand manager for Timothy Taylor’s, says retailers should focus on British beers for the industry’s national day and encourages people to take part in a 7pm “cheers for beers” toast, posting photos on social media. He also provides pointers for Beer Day Britain that could be used as a blueprint for any of these, in response to local activity.
“For a village fete, create a stunning drinks display with a picnic basket and bunting as props or, if you’re lucky enough to be located near a festival site, make sure you are stocked up with drinks for cool bags,” he says.
“Look at options for boosting sales with add-on purchases such as coolers, insulated bags or corkscrews that can be sold with the drinks in a bundle price.”
DON’T BE ANTI-SOCIAL
Digital media has made it easier than ever for retailers to promote directly to customers at minimal cost. A small revolution in alcohol packaging design in recent years has also made drinks brands more photogenic than ever.
Abi Chell, sales manager of the Canned Wine Co, says: “Because cans are very visual, social media is an excellent way to help drive sales.
“Retailers could run a poll on Instagram stories for which variety to open for sampling, or a ‘guess the varietal from a taste descriptor’ promotion to win a free can.”
Paul Hayes, co-founder and chief executive of Vivir tequila, adds: “People want to be entertained and given reasons to share content with their friends because it’s funny, interesting or educational.
“Brands are starting to latch on to this in really innovative and exciting ways, but a lot of retailers are still yet to fully embrace it.”
THINK HORSES FOR COURSES
Summer drinks sales are driven by different occasions than other times of year – such as barbecues, festivals or just hanging out with friends in parks and gardens – so tailor ranges to suit these.
Jo Taylorson, head of marketing & product management at Kingsland Drinks, supplier of Core Molino Prosecco and Hidden Sea wine, says: “The key is for retailers to really understand how different consumer groups are approaching drinking occasions and ensure they are offering breadth and depth of choice.
“Some will be looking for a premium wine to trade up to something special, while others will be shopping for beers, pale ales and ciders to experiment with new brands and flavours.”
Kathleen Day, sales director of Six O’Clock gin, says convenience on the “grab and go” occasion plays into spirit and mixer RTDs. “RTDs allow consumers to trial a brand or product, with minimal commitment and financial risk, before building their confidence to purchase a bottle,” she adds.
Elise Hockridge, customer marketing manager at Kopparberg UK, says there will still be mileage in staycations, as a legacy of the pandemic and fallout from the rising cost of living. “The sacrifices that consumers look to make elsewhere will lead to in-store trade-up as they will not be willing to make further ones on product quality,” she says.
THE SAMPLE OPPORTUNITY
Nobody wants to sample a warm neat spirit at 40% abv on a warm Saturday lunchtime,” say Mark Dawkins, managing director of Craftwork, whose portfolio includes Scapegrace gin, Hotel Starlino vermouth and the Tuscan Tree no-alcohol aperitivo spirit.
Instead, he suggests: “Sample spirits in store with the full solution, and with the proposed mixer, ice and garnish. All can be pre-prepared and served in a mini format. “If the consumer tastes it as they can serve it at home, retailers will sell more.”