Christmas remains the most important time of year for alcohol sales. It is also showing 2% growth. Wine accounts for £1.4bn, spirits £1.2bn with beer making up the rest. It also a time when people trade up to better quality and look for more premium brands.
PRUK carried out a survey pre and post Christmas among 2,000 shoppers and 30 video diary recordings among 15 participants.
Dan Reuby, PRUK’s customer marketing director, said that shoppers were looking for a sense of occasion, an experience at Christmas. Consumers are shopping across channels with convenience and online showing the greatest potential
Commercial director, spirits Simon van Moppes said that is the 12 weeks leading up to Christmas the ‘Premium+’ sector rises in share from 26% of total spirits sales to 37% in the final week. In a pointed remark aimed at multiple retailer pricing policies, he said: “Discounting on standard spirits gets in the way of premium spirits. We should focus on shifting people up to premium spirits.”
As far as gifting is concerned, whisky is the “key gifted spirit.” Fifty percent of ‘gifting volume’ takes place in the three weeks running into Christmas. The research also showed that consumers want help with things such as making cocktails and party time solutions. They wanted to avoid “being seen as cheap when buying alcohol for parties”.
Van Moppes said that last Christmas one-in-three drinks in the on trade were spirits compared to 1-in-4 in 2011. Premium spirits rise to 38% of total compared to the 35% average. The PRUK research shows that premium spirits are crucial to every time of on trade outlet
PRUK marketing director, Patrick Venning said that “wine penetration increased from 35 to 51% in December versus the rest of the year. Premium wine, priced £6.50+, grows in importance and accounts for over a quarter of all spend on wine during Christmas.
Thirty-six percent of sparkling wine and 46% of Champagne volumes are sold in the Christmas period. Sparkling Wine was the fastest growing category in BWS last Christmas seeing double-digit growth for the 2nd years in a row. There is little cross over between Champagne and sparklers.
Turning to innovation, Venning unveiled several new brands. Domecq 1820, a premium solera reserva Spanish brandy that comes in a 50cl bottle and has a 36% abv. Malibu, the coconut-flavoured rum loved by younger drinkers, has new slightly more upmarket packaging. Then there is Oddka by Wyborowa vodka. Five flavours, 20% abv and £9.49 (Electricity is 30% and £11.49). Already available in the US, France, Italy and Austria, it is now being rolled out in Switzerland, Portugal, the Netherlands, Ireland, Sweden and Greece.
There are also some new wines: Brancott Estate low alcohol Flight Sauvignon Blanc, Jacob’s Creek Cool Harvest Pinot Grigio, Camp Viejo Garnacha and Graffigna Malbec