Cash in on party spirit

Beers and other drinks may be prominent but spirits add up to a load of night-in sales says Diageo

Diageo says fractional sizes such as 35ml Smirnoff make spirits more attractive for many at-home occasions. It also says that take-home premium spirits such as its recently relaunched Johnnie Walker Red Label whisky are growing.

THE UK economy may be showing signs of recovery. But progress is slow and for drinks giant Diageo shoppers are still feeling the squeeze. And that means, says the firm’s category development manager – small stores GB, Patricia Mota, that they are still spending less time and money than they traditionally did on evenings out and are instead staying at home for a big night in.

And while beers and ciders may be very prominently displayed in many c-stores the firm, whose major brands include Smirnoff, Gordon’s, Bell’s and Captain Morgan’s, argues that retailers should realise that spirits play a vital role in big-night-in events too.
Spirits account for almost a quarter of consumption of alcohol purchased in the off-trade and have the highest share of consumption in all party occasions, at 33%, says Mota.
Party occasions, including up-tempo nights and celebrations, were shown in an Alcovision report in September 2012 to be in 11% growth.
However, Mota says, the big night in isn’t just about high-tempo occasions. The same Alcovision study found that in almost half (46%) of the times that spirits are bought in the off-trade they are purchased for what are classed as ‘relax and unwind’ occasions and in 35% of instances they’re bought for events described as ‘casual get-togethers’.
The drinks that are purchased vary according to the type of night in that’s planned and the type of shopper that’s making the purchase.
So Mota argues that it’s important for wholesalers and retailers to stock a range of spirits and spirit-based pre-mixed drinks to suit all occasions.
Fractional-sized bottles of spirits, such as its own 35ml Smirnoff are achieving sales growth and are, Mota argues, ideal for many night-in occasions.
And, perhaps because economising consumers want to save on going out but still look for quality, premium spirits are doing well in the UK off-trade – showing an increase of 10% in value sales year-on-year, according to Nielsen Scantrack figures to March 2013.