Taste sen­sa­tion

In­creas­ingly so­phis­ti­cated palates are mak­ing gro­cers re­think the beer and wine cat­e­gory.

Progressive Grocer (India) - - Contents - By Randy Hof­bauer

In­creas­ingly so­phis­ti­cated palates are mak­ing gro­cers re­think the beer and wine cat­e­gory.

Al­though U.S. con­sumers con­tinue to en­joy beer and wine as fre­quently as al­ways in the com­fort of their homes or in bars, at-home con­sump­tion clearly rules. Be­tween 66 per­cent and 76 per­cent of con­sumers drink beer, wine or spir­its at home at least once per week, com­pared with the 23 per­cent to 26 per­cent who go out to im­bibe once per week, ac­cord­ing to a new re­port from Chicago-based IRI.

There’s a cer­tain amount of con­fu­sion in the aisles, how­ever: Beer, wine and spir­its shop­pers make in-store shop­ping trips more than once per week, and 40 per­cent of buy­ers walk in un­de­cided as to what prod­uct to pur­chase. This sug­gests that gro­cers have an op­por­tu­nity to take stronger con­trol over the cat­e­gory to help grow over­all sales.

All About Life­style

Beer is all about match­ing life­styles. And life­style trends are forc­ing man­u­fac­tur­ers and re­tail­ers alike to re­think their ap­proach to man­ag­ing the beer cat­e­gory. Tim Burke, di­rec­tor of cat­e­gory so­lu­tions at Chicago-based brewer Miller­coors, notes that con­sumers have in­creas­ingly so­phis­ti­cated palates, en­joy­ing more up­scale and craft of­fer­ings. This growth in so­phis­ti­ca­tion shows that more than ever, the cus­tomer truly is king. “In 2017, the beer in­dus­try has the op­por­tu­nity to win by re­fo­cus­ing and ex­e­cut­ing on cat­e­gory man­age­ment fun­da­men­tals like bal­anced as­sort­ment dis­ci­pline, price gap man­age­ment and im­pact­ful dis­plays to de­light our shop­pers,” he says. “Shop­pers’ ex­pec­ta­tions are evolv­ing and in­ten­si­fy­ing, their oc­ca­sions and life­style needs are chang­ing, they have more ac­cess at their fin­ger­tips, and they are re­defin­ing their de­mands for value. So we need to am­plify our dis­plays, sim­plify and im­prove shopa­bil­ity, and en­sure we are de­liv­er­ing value across our port­fo­lio of beer.”

Vikas Sayal, se­nior di­rec­tor of com­mer­cial mar­ket­ing with White Plains, N.y.-based brewer Heineken USA, also no­tices such con­sumer trends, adding to them the grow­ing rel­e­vance of lighter op­tions for con­sumers fo­cused on healthy liv­ing, and Mex­i­can brews to match the grow­ing preva­lence of His­panic cul­ture.

Of course, while speak­ing these con­sumers’ lan­guage is key to bet­ter reach­ing them, it’s also crit­i­cal for gro­cers and sup­pli­ers to speak the same lan­guage with one an­other. Sayal stresses the im­por­tance of do­ing so when align­ing a joint busi­ness plan — the pri­mary step to be­com­ing shop­per-cen­tric.

“This means un­der­stand­ing their or­ga­ni­za­tion’s key pil­lars, strat­egy, lead­er­ship team needs, and com­ing to them with cus­tomer- and shop­per-fo­cused so­lu­tions that in­crease traf­fic and cross-cat­e­gory pur­chases,” he ex­plains.

For the shop­per, the best thing gro­cers and their sup­plier part­ners can do is work to­gether to com­mu­ni­cate with shop­pers more ef­fec­tively via a true path to pur­chase: pre-store, in-store and post-pur­chase.

“Part of this is through in-store, on­line and dig­i­tal means,” Sayal says. “The other is seek­ing to un­der­stand our shop­pers’ at­ti­tudes and be­hav­iors in ev­ery­thing we do by talk­ing di­rectly to them.”

In 2017, the beer in­dus­try has the op­por­tu­nity to win by re­fo­cus­ing and ex­e­cut­ing on cat­e­gory man­age­ment fun­da­men­tals. — Tim Burke Miller­coors

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