In the 2023 National Liquor News Industry Leaders Forum, Fever-Tree looks into a key liquor retail opportunity for the year – selling everything a consumer needs for a finished and elevated mixed serve.
Despite lapping some interesting previous years, 2022 was another really strong year for Fever-Tree, according to the brand’s Managing Director ANZ, Andy Gaunt.
“We grew by around 30 per cent in 2022… If you look in grocery retail (where we see the best data for total mixers in Australia), the total mixer category was slightly flat or declined. Our growth shows there is a continued story of Australians, when they’re given the choice, looking to access more premium options,” Gaunt said.
In December 2022, Gaunt said Fever-Tree even became the number one tonic by value in the retail channel. But it’s not just the impressive range of tonics that are driving success – continued growing sales are coming from soda water (both flavoured and regular) and ginger ales, as well as different formats, from cans to larger bottles and also multipacks. In fact, it’s the success of different formats and flavours that have been a highlight for Gaunt over the last year, especially with the eight pack of 150ml cans.
“What’s been really pleasing to see there, is when a retailer does introduce that canned format, it’s predominantly an incremental sale rather than the cannibalisation. It’s coming from a different shopper that buys into cans within mixers,” Gaunt said.
As it stands, this format is predominantly in supermarket and big box liquor retail, meaning there is great opportunity for the rest of the market to get on board.
Other bright spots from 2022 for Gaunt included the continued momentum of the ‘better for you’ category, which helped drive success for lower calorie Fever-Tree SKUs with limited impact to the original versions; and also the expansion of the portfolio with Fever-Tree Distillers Cola. This latest new product, which has been received exceptionally well already, emphasises the effectiveness of Fever-Tree’s NPD strategy, which is solely focused on the mixing occasion. Every beverage creation is seen as an ingredient for a mixed drink.
“When it comes to innovation, that allows us to make sure that any new product we create is truly adding value,” Gaunt explained.
That value comes from creating flavour profiles that pair with the characters of different spirits, while being flavours that are recognisable by consumers. It’s also important for new products to be anchored to styles of drinks consumers are actively seeking out, and to take into consideration different formats to allow for enjoyment on a wide variety of occasions.
Collaboration an opportunity for 2023
Gaunt recognised that the off-premise liquor industry saw the opportunity of premium mixers early, however, the grocery retail space is now catching up. In 2023, there is a real opportunity for liquor stores to step things back up.
“Grocery stores cannot sell the full ingredients for mixed alcoholic drinks like bottle shops can. While grocery retailers have done a great job of raising the profile of premium mixers, I think the opportunity coming into 2023 is for liquor retailers to focus on selling serves,” Gaunt said.
This means selling customers not just their favourite spirit, but a premium Fever-Tree mixer to match. Gaunt said this creates ease of shopping, and an overall better experience, leading to customers being more likely to come back to repeat the process. With inflationary pressures predicted to cause consumers to use mixers to premiumise their drinks (as opposed to a previous trend of premiumising with the spirit), getting behind the resilience and versatility of premium mixers is key.
“As we come into a year that is on one hand more stable, but on the other hand, slightly more daunting, there is even more reason to showcase great value, great offers, and sell serves through easy shopping experiences,” Gaunt said.
“I think there’s going to be a really important partnership and collaboration opportunity for this with Fever-Tree in 2023.”