Pernod Ricard UK has identified a £15.5 million premium spirits opportunity for convenience retailers this Christmas and it is urging stores to give stronger visibility to premium brands. 

The convenience channel increased its value share of premium spirits by 3% in the last quarter of 2018, versus grocery 8%. The channel even lost 1% versus the previous year. 

Pernod is also increasing its above the line advertising spend by 38% with campaigns going live from October for Jameson, Plymouth Gin, Chivas Regal and Campo Viejo. This contributes to an overall investment in the Christmas occasion of more than £5 million, nearly 70% more than last year. 

The company said there are five categories it recommends retailers focus on getting right: gin, Irish whiskey, blended Scotch, vodka and wine. These can all lend themselves to two key consumer drinking occasions at Christmas: “giving the perfect gift” and “bring the best hosts at home”. 

Data from the company shows consumer behaviour at Christmas is changing with more households each buying more products and visiting convenience stores more often. During these shopping trips people are buying less but spending more and the leading premiumising product is spirits. 

Chris Shead, off-trade channel director for Pernod Ricard UK, said: “It was a good Christmas for the convenience channel last year, however, it continued to fall behind grocery as retailers failed to maximise the premium spirits opportunity. The data all points towards a third gin-dominated Christmas this year, however, we also anticipate this year to be driven by gifting outside of traditional categories, such as gin and our new Plymouth Gift Box, as well as lead-ingredients for popular cocktails and mixed drinks. That’s why we are investing significantly this year to encourage more moments of conviviality, to get consumers spending more time with family and friends, as well as more money in the convenience channel on premium wines and spirits.”

In 2018 more consumers spent time entertaining friends and family at home. Home meal occasions were up 752 million and dinner parties were up by 38 million in 2018 versus the previous five years. This has contributed to the rise of consumers wanting to recreate their favourite cocktails and mixed drinks at home with Google searches for the Espresso Martini up 156% over the last three years. 

Data also shows growth for the convenience sector happens later in the month of December, as opposed to grocery and the on-trade, and Pernod said the key to growing sales is to encourage sales of premium spirits earlier in the month. 

The Plymouth Gift Box will be available from November, priced at £26.69. The launch aims to capitalise on the fact 44% of UK consumers gave gin as a gift last year. 

Pernod also has a Chivas 12 Year Old Giftbox, which offers gift options at three different price points for Chivas 12, Chivas Extra and Chivas XV.