By Deborah Jackson, Editor National Liquor News
TheShout was first to report on Monday that Coles has launched a new big box, low-cost retail liquor brand called Liquor Market, but the question is where does Liquor Market sit within the Coles portfolio of retail liquor brands?
Coles Liquor Group currently own Liquorland and Vintage Cellars, but the real question is what the launch of Liquor Market means for First Choice.
It's no secret that the Coles Liquor Group has struggled to come up with its own big box format to match that of Dan Murphy's, and last year the Managing Director for Coles, John Durkan, said: "In terms of First Choice, we're still working through the ideal model."
So it will be interesting to see whether Liquor Market will ultimately sit alongside First Choice or if it will replace it in the long-term.
The new Liquor Market store has opened on the site of a former First Choice store in Ringwood, Victoria, and Coles stresses that it is very much a trial concept.
Coles Liquor Director, Greg Davis, said: “We are trialling a new concept store at Ringwood as part of the ongoing turnaround of the Coles Liquor business, and we really want to know what customers think before deciding whether to roll it out further.”
The main point of difference between Coles' two big box liquor stores, First Choice and Liquor Market, appears to be that the Liquor Market store layout has been designed to encourage discovery and experimentation for the consumer. This is done by grouping products together on shelf by flavour profile rather than by brand.
For instance, every product has a shelf-edge descriptor, so when looking at, say, Marlborough Sauvignon Blancs, it’s easy to pick the green, grassy style from the fruitier, tropical-flavoured ones.
By providing more information to customers, it appears Liquor Market is seeking to encourage customers to explore new products in a way that they feel comfortable, rather than requiring them to ask for assistance – although service levels at the store have not been reduced.
Described by Coles as a low-cost model, Liquor Market has also done away with window-dressing that does not directly assist customers – the layout features a lot of cardboard boxes and cartons stacked on pallets, an ambience closer to Bunnings than the department-store look some liquor retailers favour.
Coles has been working on turning around its liquor business for some time now and it seems that the turnaround has been gaining some traction with comparable sales growth reported in the last financial year. So, it will be interesting to see the results of the Liquor Market trial and what the next move from Coles will be in regards to First Choice.