By Shane T Williams in Dublin

Over 230 delegates from the Liquor Marketing Group (LMG) have gathered in Dublin for the group’s annual conference. With a number of business sessions, visits to the Guinness Storehouse, Jameson Bow Street Distillery and a number of other networking sessions, the conference is an opportunity for the LMG family to come together, learn, network and enjoy the city of Dublin.

The first business session kicked off on the second day and LMG CEO Gavin Saunders welcomed delegates, set the theme for the conference and gave delegates an update on how the business is tracking.

In his opening address Gavin Saunders announced that the theme of the 2018 conference was ‘shopper first’, which he said was a reflection on how LMG sees the market.

Expanding on that ‘shopper first’ theme, Saunders said: “There is a terminology floating around in retail called ‘new world retail’ which has some negative connotations because it involves change. The speed of change that is happening in the market is daunting. Putting the shopper first and retailing experiences is where retailers need to be.

“This is a continuation of change that’s been happening over many years and it’s our responsibility at LMG and also as retailers to adapt and meet that change of shopper demand. It’s not a revolutionary change from a retail perspective, it’s more the evolution of the shopper.”

Saunders added: “’New world retail’ is just the continual evolution of the shopper, it’s not a revolution. The challenge is e-commerce and it’s happening right around the globe, it’s happening more and more and quicker and quicker in the Australian market as well.

“Traditional bricks and mortar retail have been impacted by Amazon, Australia is not immune but it will take a sometime for liquor to be impacted in our market. Obviously Dan Murphy’s have ‘click and collect’ and 7-Eleven has recently bought into Tipple. We’ve had convenience enquiring about selling alcohol for some time and this may be a back door entry point into selling alcohol.

“We are now moving into the experience economy and there’s a great opportunity for retailers. Consumers are willing to pay more for experiences,” Saunders said.

He went on to say that the evolution of the shopper has evolved from buying commodities to goods to services and now to experiences. Saunders uses the example of the coffee bean as a commodity, instant coffee as the good, a take away coffee as the service and Nespresso as the experience. Saunders added that people will pay well over the odds to buy Nespresso.

Taking it back to liquor retailing, Saunders said: “Our industry sells fun in a bottle, be it a cask or a can and we are better placed to find that connection, we are better able to service our customers and provide that experience better than others”.

Saunders also questioned what has driven the shopper evolution, he told delegates: “It’s a shopper need, the shopper need defines the retail evolution and that selling a commodity in ‘new world retail’ will be challenging. If you’re just selling a commodity and putting a price on a shelf given greater price transparency in the market then that’s not going to cut it.

“Experience equals value, so bricks and mortar have to be able to provide the experience. If you think of the interaction between a consumer and an online retailer they can’t possibly get that connection,” said Saunders, adding that e-commerce is complimentary to bricks and mortar retailing.

So putting the ‘shopper first’ and providing great customer service with excellent retail execution, speed of service and e-commerce, combined with a  favourable  personable and memorable experience provides a great shopper experience.

The 2018 LMG conference runs for the rest of the week. For Gavin Saunders’ conference update on how LMG is tracking in the marketplace you can read it here.

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *