Earlier this year, candidates on The Apprentice vied to impress with their non-alcoholic creations. Among the expert judges was online retailer The Bottle Club’s director, Rishi Lakhani. Here, he shares his insights into how retailers can avoid any pitfalls and make the right selections when it comes to their ranges.

It’s no secret that the pandemic marked a huge shift in consumer buying habits. At-home drinking soared and so did sales of premium spirits (Tequila, vodka and liqueurs in particular) with consumers opting to trade up on their usual purchases. Alongside this increase in demand, came an increase in innovation as suppliers looked to make up for on-trade losses and capitalise on the growing at-home market. Many start-ups and craft brands also emerged as entrepreneurs took the opportunity to launch or grow a fledgling business.

With a buoyant at home sector and increased NPD – making the right product selection is more important than ever. Here are my top tips:

Trending but not trendy

Keeping on top of emerging trends is crucial but it’s important to select the right new products that align with your current customers, or those that you want to attract.

In many areas of the market, it is younger demographics that are driving the need for innovation so catering to this demand (whilst remaining authentic as a brand and not alienating longer standing customers) is key.

Wine is a good example – with a lack of interest from younger drinkers, producers are looking for new ways to entice them to buy. From the growing popularity of canned options to the new breed of wine brands, such as 19 Crimes and Jam Shed – retailers can now offer consumers an even broader selection of wine. Just don’t forget to grow premium selections to cater for established buyers and new drinkers looking to trade up.

Tequila and whiskey are also growth areas for younger consumers with new and innovative brands changing the way these spirits are perceived (and consumed). Mezcal is also gaining traction with drinkers. With these new and emerging trends, it’s important to take consumers on a journey – offering them breadth of choice, educating them on quality, how to consume and keeping them enticed with new offerings.

Avoid greenwashing

Consumers are more eco-aware than ever and demand complete transparency from the brands that they buy from. Organic, locally sourced, waste free, small-batch products are all extremely popular with consumers and offering a good range of eco-conscious brands – from both big and small – suppliers will appeal. That said, with many brands quick to make eco claims, it’s important to ensure that these credentials can stand up to scrutiny – especially if you are marketing a product from a sustainability perspective.

What’s the story?

With so many products to choose from you must keep in mind how you will market the products to consumers – what’s the back story or USP that will really make it stand out to customers? How are you going to communicate this via your marketing channels – branding, imagery and video assets are all a crucial part of the mix so factor in the whole package when making your buying decisions.

Celebrity-backed brands are hugely popular and are taking market share across the sector. With many celebrity products standing up on taste and quality, leveraging this star appeal is a big pull for retailers but make sure you cherry pick the products that will enhance and compliment your range.


The alcohol sector is undoubtedly seasonal – with many products associated with certain drinking occasions (such as Christmas or summer BBQs). Having a mix of products that have enduring appeal is crucial, as is being able to communicate to customers why they should be buying and drinking them all year round. Consider the longevity of the products that you list and how you can keep them front of mind – recipes, styled imagery and offers will help to encourage customer loyalty.