Not only was 2023 a milestone year for Activate Group Australia, as it celebrated its 40-year anniversary, but it was also a year of transition.

Several long-term directors departed to make space for younger leaders, and it was the first time that Activate Group welcomed non-member directors onto the board. Activate Group Managing Director Keith Quigg told National Liquor News that this has proven to be a positive change.

“The rewards of bringing in non-member directors has started to take effect and the direction of the group has changed positively.

“One of the key values that younger members bring is know-how in connecting with the younger employees within the retail industry. While the level and quality of service provided by members is recognised at senior level, it is important that we can engage with the younger and upcoming managers. They will be the ones making the sales and marketing decisions in the not-to-distant future and it is essential that they are fully aware of Activate and our services,” he said.

A competitive market

Looking to 2024, Quigg is conscious of the increasing number of new products entering the market, and the potential challenges this could pose for retailers.

“The key battles will be for the major brands to fend off the possibly overwhelming rush of new brands into the market. Part of that battle is being able to second-guess the millennial consumer’s interest in moving away from known brands and towards the unknown,” he said.

Amid this evolving consumer environment, Quigg expects the tone of advertising to change.

“Advertising in liquor has consistently taken a rather ‘ocker’ approach. Advertising agencies may find that a more middle-of-the-road approach is necessary to keep up with the liquor consumer trends,” he said.

Additionally, Quigg anticipates that more retailers will seek out external services to support the expansion of their businesses.

“Liquor is a market that continues to evolve, and, like fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), it is primarily in the hands of major retail groups. Competition in liquor is also evolving and along with this evolution comes the need to fine-tune brand management. The use of outsourced services for merchandising, data collation and promotional controls will expand rapidly, which is where Activate members come in.

“The expansion outside the major brand producers with the plethora of small-to-medium enterprise (SME) breweries and distilleries will see those companies seeking support for their plans to enter the mainstream markets. Outsourcing is their only option,” he said.

Activate provides a network for its members to find these services, regardless of the branch of retail that members work within.

“For a long time, members were perceived as FMCG only. This is far from the case. Activate members provide outsourced services across the entire industry, providing to blue-chip clients, SME clients and to the major retailers directly,” Quigg said.

This article originally appeared in the 2024 Leaders Forum issue of National Liquor News.

Deborah Jackson

Deb joined Intermedia in 2015 as Editor of National Liquor News and Deputy Editor of The Shout. Since then, she has also worked as the Editor of Beer & Brewer and the New Zealand title, World of Wine....

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