One of the most important selling periods for the food and drink category, the countdown to Christmas has begun, which means it’s time for retailers to get their shelves ready to cater for the increase in footfall to drive value this season.

As Christmas brings more reasons to socialise and create great experiences with friends and family at home, HEINEKEN UK predicts another year of bumper sales. Whilst Christmas trading is typically not as big as Summer, retailers must ensure they make the right choices when stocking and merchansing their stores, to enable them to capture footfall and sales during the busy winter months.

With shoppers spending £4.1bn[1] during Christmas week last year, maximising on the opportunity is still critical to retailers’ success, as well as supporting growth for the whole category. This alongside the fact that 52%[2] of Beer and Cider value sales are sold over key seasonal periods, means that retailers must create an environment that customers want to spend time and money in.

In the spirit of the season, HEINEKEN has wrapped up five simple tips from its Greenpaper to help retailers make the most of the Christmas boom:

  • Perfectly Premium –Last Christmas we saw an increase in share for the more premium sectors across Lager & Cider and we expect that trend to continue this year. Categories such as premium beer, craft, and No & Low, as well as Cider Flavoured and Heritage all showed substantial growth in the lead-up to Christmas. Thus, retailers must ensure their range mix is right for their shoppers by offering a breadth of favourites that help facilitate a trade up for shoppers who want to spoil themselves or try something new this Christmas.
  • Made to suit – Whilst there is an increased demand for mid packs within the impulse channel at Christmas, Single and Small packs still lead the charge at Christmas, comprising 77% of Beer sales and 85% of Cider sales. Thus, retailers should limit mid packs to core brands only, ensuring the right promotions are on the more profitable single bottle and small pack segments.
  • Alcohol Free – when merchandising for the Christmas period, retailers should stock a variety of products that cater for different tastes and shopping motivations. With the rise of health-conscious shoppers, retailers should stock low and no alcohol options to harness additional sales from shoppers who are keen to “Live Better” without compromising on taste. Heineken 0.0 is a great option, responding directly to festive party goers looking to moderate their alcohol intake, but still enjoy great tasting beer over the busy festive season.
  • Timing is key – the ‘Alcohol Specific Mission’ almost doubles in importance at Christmas so retailers must ensure range and merchandising are clear, maximizing off shelf visibility so that shoppers can easily locate what they are looking for. ‘Planned Social Occasions’ and ‘Special Occasions’ also increase in importance at Christmas, so ensuring premium segments are readily available, along with mid packs for the ‘top-up mission’, is key. With Christmas 2018 falling on a Tuesday, shoppers have a full weekend in the final week so retailers should expect a flurry of last-minute customers. Thus, ensuring stock levels are maintained for the final week is vital as we expect the final weekend of sales to be even higher this year compared to 2017.
  • Perfect pairings – the festive season naturally results in more drinking opportunities for consumers with work Christmas parties, socializing with friends and family get-togethers dominating the holiday period. A third[3] of all drinking occasions now include food and with 43%[4] of large single bottles purchased to accompany a meal, there is a real opportunity for retailers to be adventurous with their cross-merchandising to help promote perfect pairings of food and drink. Retailers should position beers such as Foster’s next to crisps and snacks for those shoppers planning to spend time with friends indoors, or place quick and easy party foods like pizzas next to Birra Moretti to cater for seasonal family get-togethers. In doing so, retailers can get shoppers passionate about both food and drink options, in turn increasing their spend.

Toby Lancaster, Category and Shopper Marketing Director at HEINEKEN UK, also highlights the importance of retailer merchandising and communication, with social media playing a key role in making consumers aware of what’s in-store.

“Christmas calls for a bit of theatre. Whilst tactics are key, it’s important not to ignore the fundamentals too – simply adding some festive decorations, POS and displays will serve as a seasonal reminder to shoppers, as well as disrupting traditional category flows.”

He continues, “It’s no secret that social media is also becoming increasingly important in how retailers communicate with customers; it’s a great tool in ensuring shoppers are up to date with in-store events and new product launches in store. It is said, 64%[5] of shoppers write a list before they shop, meaning it’s essential they are familiar with your range before visiting.”

“Christmas can be a busy and stressful period for consumers so implementing merchandising tactics (as seen in the top five) is key to making their shopping journey as painless and easy as possible. A period where shoppers are more likely to spend more and shop more regularly, successful merchandising can help to inspire customers, reminding them to relax, indulge and spoil themselves as well as others, during the season synonymous with giving. By sticking to our tips, retailers can ensure their stores will provide shoppers with the perfect choice of products, catering to all tastes and pricepoints, helping them to increase basket spend and drive repeat business.” 

HEINEKEN’s six simple drivers seen in The Greenpaper, give retailers actionable insight to drive sales, presenting customers with a reason to visit stores and increase their basket spend – with the potential to unlock an incremental value of £670m across the six drivers in the category.

[1] Source: Nielsen Scantrack Total Store Read

[2]  Nielsen Scantrack Total off Trade

[3] Kantar Alcovision December 2017

[4] InSites Consulting/HEINEKEN Category Image Study 2017

[5] *him omni channel barometer

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