Female shopper looking at wine in liquor store

There are three things that you should know about shopper behaviour when it comes to cycling 2020 growth, writes David Shukri, Senior Insight Director at Shopper Intelligence.

One thing many in business fear is complacency. Assuming you’ve got it all worked out one day, only for someone else to pop up and start eating your lunch the next!

Given the sales we saw in off-premise liquor last year, businesses could have been forgiven for thinking everything was sown up.

The numbers sure aren’t bad, but Coles and Woolworths both reported a little less momentum at the end of 2020.

So, if we are moving towards ‘normal,’ where will you find that edge you need to keep the graphs pointing up? What’s your plan to stay ahead of your competitors in 2021?

Shopper Intelligence has finished its annual survey of more than 23,000 liquor shoppers. Here are three things they told us that you need to know.

Keep going on health

The big topic of 2020 was of course health and wellbeing. Grocery shoppers reported that healthy choices became more important to them last year and now liquor shoppers say the same. Of the sixteen measures we track, it’s still near the bottom of the pile overall, but the year-on-year increase in this measure is significant.

Associated measures like innovation (appealing new ideas) and responsibility (offering options to help with responsible drinking) also increased last year.

The good news is that shoppers also believe the industry is doing a better job on health than it was a year ago. Where last year they reported satisfaction with health had gone backwards, it’s now the most improved area of delivery.

There are indications that this will be an enduring theme and that efforts to move the dial have worked. The key now will be to pinpoint specific shopper groups and hone in on their needs through the rest of 2021.

Help me decide in-store

In October last year our post-COVID research found more liquor shoppers were making their category decisions in-store. Now, shoppers have confirmed this behaviour has continued. There’s less planning taking place and the role of in-store information is growing. Wine and spirits lead the way, while shoppers in NSW are the most likely to have adopted this shopping style.

At the same time, among planned shoppers the likelihood of buying liquor to fulfill someone else’s request has also increased.

If you’re putting more focus on product information at shelf, this looks like a sound strategy. For a category like ‘new world’ RTDs (which includes seltzer), it’s going to be imperative this year. This category ranks second for information in-store being the purchase trigger.

Social matters

In case you hadn’t spotted it, people are moving online – spending more time and money in the online space.

Liquor shoppers also say what they see online is having more influence over what they buy. In particular, social media is having more of an impact than in 2020. Shoppers are more likely to call it out as having had an impact and say it encouraged them to buy more of what they planned. Before you say it’s down to the youngsters, the biggest shifts here actually came from 35–54 year-olds. Who says you can teach an old dog new tricks?

Keep the engagement through digital channels high. Link those activities up all the way through to shelf and remember to target shoppers at different life stages.

This article originally appeared in the April issue of National Liquor News. Catch up on it below.

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Brydie Allen

Editor of National Liquor News

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