By Julie Ryan, CEO of Retail Drinks Australia

Well, yes it may be for many. With alcohol consumption levels at a 50-year low according to the ABS, it is now more important than ever for liquor retailers to be constantly adapting to changing consumer trends and demand.

The evolving nature of Australians’ relationship with alcohol is reflected in recently published data from Roy Morgan Research showing that over an average fourweek period, 67.9 per cent of Australians aged 18 and over consume at least one type of alcoholic drink, down from 70.1 per cent recorded in 2013.

The sustained decline in alcohol consumption has important ramifications for liquor retailers, as they are forced to contend with not only reduced demand for their product, but an ever-increasing amount of competition both in terms of bricks and mortar as well as online. Explosive growth is forecast for the online alcohol delivery sector, with an IBISWorld Report published in January this year predicting 16.5 per cent revenue growth in 2019 alone.

The combination of declining alcohol consumption and fierce competition within the retail landscape means that store-owners must be at the forefront of innovation to remain profitable, both in the short and long-term.

Ultimately, retail environments are about catering to consumer demand, and the demand signals right now are centred on convenience, accessibility, and premiumisation.

The extent to which retailers respond to these challenges is obviously at the discretion of the store-owners themselves, however there are a number of different ways in which innovation and staying ahead of the competition is possible. Whether it’s entering the private label or online marketplace, executing changes to the customer’s in-store experience, developing and leveraging a member rewards program, or diversifying a store’s product offering, the most important element of this strategy is to remain acutely focussed on, and catering for, the changing habits of consumers.

For any operators wishing to innovate and expand their businesses, Retail Drinks can provide the necessary information and tools to ensure that this process is as seamless as possible. With a constantly updating suite of member-only educational resources, and access to education provided through our market leader members in the fields of data, category, retailing and e-retail, there is no better time to find out how membership can increase your efficiency and help you to compete harder.

This column appeared in the April issue of National Liquor News.

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