By Paul Wootton in Queenstown

It’s not the chains’ competitive prices but their higher quality standards that are the biggest threat to independent retailers, according to Doug Misener (pictured), CEO of Liquor Marketing Group (LMG).

Speaking at the LMG conference in Queenstown, New Zealand, Misener said that Dan Murphy’s and BWS “set the standards” in the industry and had “reset” consumer expectations.

“Therefore the things that were okay five or 10 years ago are not okay anymore. If you want to compete with these guys and be successful you’ve got to lift the bar,” he explained.

Illustrating his argument with photos of poorly organised and badly merchandised independent stores, he said, “One of the biggest challenges for us is getting the execution right. The store operators who do it right are not really any different from the ones that don’t.

"It starts with a mindset that says I need to get the basics right. It’s as much about that mindset as it is about us establishing processes or giving members new systems.”

More than 320 delegates were in Queenstown to hear Misener outline his strategy for LMG in the face of increasing pressure from the major chains.

“Despite the tough market conditions and the fierce competition, we genuinely believe there is real opportunity for us to step up and stake out our fair share of the market,” he said.

Elaborating on how members might take advantage of the opportunity, Misener highlighted the importance to independent retailers of distinct brand positioning; he emphasised the need for focused consumer engagement and a shift in the mindset of store operators; and he called for a change in the dialogue between suppliers and independents.

“I have a clear message for suppliers: instead of bringing us the one size fits all programs, we’re looking for you to come to us with programs that are specific to our consumers, programs that are specific to our channel and programs that are specific to our overall market approach,” he said.

The LMG conference ends today.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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