COVID-19 has led us all into the unknown and the off-premise liquor trade is no exception. 

A lack of certainty resulted in temporary purchasing limits being introduced to ensure that there was minimal disruption to the supply chain as experienced in the supermarket sector.

There is no question that the food and beverage industry, including off-premise retailers, has been under a great deal of stress.

In-store activation to ensure shelves are full and orders are in the system are critical to maintaining well stocked stores to avoid lost sales, this is paramount to retailers during these unprecedented times.

Brand activators and merchandisers supporting retailers and suppliers to maintain their brand presence has been, and will continue to be, just as critical as we move further along the journey to a post COVID-19 world.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison called out merchandising services as “essential” and vital to supporting retailing in general.

Despite the social distancing measures that have become part of everyday life, brand activators and merchandisers are visible day-in and day-out in liquor stores, stocking shelves, filling up cool rooms, unpacking deliveries and building displays.

Suppliers’ brands continue to be available with leading merchandising teams of choice providing services and carrying out activities to give as much certainty as possible to shoppers that they will have continued access to their favourite beverage when they enter a liquor store.

Here is an excellent example of execution excellence that has come to the fore, even deep into the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Highly visible display activation was carried out in a major liquor retailer for a wine company by a leading merchandising team over a short period of time significantly enhancing brand presence and providing a bit of theatre to draw shoppers to the brand.

The numbers were highly impressive with more than 70 displays, both large and small, being built generating significant stock weight on displays of approximately 6,000 units and more than 1,400 wobblers were placed.

High velocity categories, in particular, need close attention and regular maintenance from brand activators with a ‘business as usual’ approach.

Easier said than done with availability for some major brands patchy with stock weight fluctuations occurring.

This is where the initiative and creativity of brand activators and merchandisers has repeatedly come to the fore with innovative solutions executed to ensure that shoppers still have a suitable solution to their shopping mission e.g. focus on different pack sizes or substitutable choices until the missing SKU is back in-store.

In closing we owe gratitude of debt to all brand activators and merchandisers who continue to support our retailers, suppliers and shoppers in these trying times.

This article was written by Stephen Wilson, Category & Insights Manager, Strike Force for the May 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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