It’s one of the biggest sales opportunities of the year for the drinks industry, but also the time when the market is the most saturated. Many brands are guaranteed to chime in with Christmas clichés in the lead-up, so how can you stand out without hitting the wrong notes?
In the latest in a series of features, drinks marketing agency YesMore brings together producers, buyers, marketers and consumers to wrap up the dos and don’ts of festive marketing.
Tom Harvey co-founder, YesMore
Without sounding too much like Ebenezer Scrooge, I’m really not looking forward to seeing more of the same Christmas clichés in marketing and advertising: things like branded advent calendars, Christmas ads in October, social memes joking about alcohol misuse at Christmas, 12 days of Christmas campaigns and the obsession with the John Lewis Christmas ad (#sorrynotsorry).
Instead, I’m hoping to see bigger, more prominent marketing and shelf space for alcohol-free brands. Christmas is a trigger time for many with poor mental health (or even those without), so I’d love to see some conscientiousness from marketers around the pressure to give, the expectation to over-consume and the cost of living crisis.
Sustainability has been hot on the lips of marketers this year, so I’d love to see environmentally-conscious brands take centre stage this Christmas, a time when sustainability often takes a back seat. I’d also hope to see more ads that acknowledge diverse religious beliefs – and that competitors will stand together if they need to, such as in 2020 when the big grocers did their #StandAgainstRacism activity, after Sainsbury’s received undue backlash over the use of a black family in its Christmas ad.
Sam Gilding, sales & marketing director, consumer insights company Vypr
The cost of living crisis is going to have a significant impact this Christmas, with more than 53% of consumers from Vypr’s community saying they are planning to spend less overall. Vypr research shows that 47% of consumers will be spending less on alcohol, with many planning to drink at home more.
Consumers will be looking for multibuys and range promotions on the key product groups of spirits, wine and beer, with a particular preference for supermarket own-label options in beer and wine. Interestingly, our research also revealed that consumers are moving away from the established Christmas favourites of gin and advocaat, with non-alcoholic alternatives proving more popular.
When we look at pub and bar footfall, the research indicates that consumers are still planning to visit the on-trade, but less frequently. When they do go out, they want to consume drinks, including winter cocktails, that they perceive to last longer and have high value. But they told us they don’t want to consume high-cost drinks such as whisky.
Nick Larsson-Bell, senior buyer for spirits and beers, Harvey Nichols
The importance of a successful Christmas cannot be understated; it can make or break a year. This year we’re finding a much more conservative approach to gift packs from brands, with a definite lean towards year-round packs over Christmas-specific lines. It is always good to strike a balance between the two: if you over purchase on the non-specific lines, they can be sold throughout the year.
That said, you still want to have plenty of Christmassy packs to make enticing displays with. To make up the shortfall of festive packs from brands, we will be releasing a range of own-label Christmas cocktails and launching a new hamper range with Harvey Nichols Christmas food lines.
A host of rare and limited-edition lines are coming out over the coming months, and these will certainly be stocked alongside our new single barrel whiskies and rums, and a new selection of own-label spirits. There seems to be an increase in demand for whiskies in limited-edition sets and rarer styles of rum, two categories that we will be focusing on.
Oliver Peniston-Bird, head of sales & marketing, Fitz English sparkling wine
After the past few years being punctuated by lockdowns and regulations, it’s exciting to finally have a clear run ahead of us.
Last year, the outbreak of Omicron and people staying home pre-Christmas left restaurants, bars and hotels with excess stock that either had to be thrown out or kept back for January or February, which are notoriously quiet months. This year we are hoping festivities are back with a vengeance and people are looking to make up for lost time.
The cost of living crisis has somewhat dampened this spirit, but we are confident there is going to be cause to celebrate what has been a tough few years. A movement towards domestically produced English wine is on the cards too, with many sites listing English fizz. We have seen a huge increase in awareness, and consumers are now able to access some fantastic wines at varying price points. For us, bridging the gap between Prosecco and Champagne has been the main goal, and many sites are now offering our wines as part of a Best of British package.