Shopper Intelligence will release its latest off-premise research on April 13, featuring insights into the buying habits of Australian consumers over the past 12 months.
More than 24,000 shoppers were questioned across 11 major banners in 32 liquor categories as part of the extensive survey of the retail liquor channel.
While the fieldwork was completed before the current public health situation, Senior Insight Director at Shopper Intelligence David Shukri said it represents a true reflection of how behaviour, motivations and needs in the off-premise have evolved.
“We know today we are in the middle of an unprecedented event that is having a huge impact on shopping behaviour,” said Shukri.
“In time, we’ll be able to reflect on those changes and assess which, if any, will persist in the longer-term.
“We must also bear in mind that normality will return at some point and it will be more important than ever then to ensure category plans and strategies are in line with the changes we’ve seen in off-premise shopper behaviour in recent years.”
What were the big off-premise trends in 2019?
Shopper Intelligence identified three major off-premise trends in 2019: growth in convenience banner shopper satisfaction, continued interest in healthy choices and innovation, and a focus on occasion buying among customers under the age of 34.
“Last year, overall satisfaction in the channel increased to a four-year high of 66%,” said Shukri.
“Within this, big box banners such as Dan Murphy’s and First Choice still had the most satisfied shoppers, but those using convenience banners like Bottlemart and BWS reported the greatest increases in satisfaction compared to the year before.
“In particular, we saw the gap narrowing in terms of range, innovation and execution – which included metrics such as store layout and availability.
“On price perception, the rest of the market made significant gains on the two big format operators. Convenience shoppers felt these banners were doing a better job of delivering appealing special offers than they had done in the past.”
In 2019, the essentials – price, quality, availability – remained the most important factors to liquor shoppers, but differentiators such as healthy choices and enjoyment were increasingly the areas where banners could set themselves apart from the rest.
“Shoppers reported that sugar and calorie reduction were their top two priorities last year and the smaller format stores in particular made big gains with shoppers in terms of delivering against these health needs,” Shukri said.
“Interestingly, shoppers said that lower alcohol products were actually relatively less important to them.”
In 2019, 63% of shoppers under 34 had a particular occasion in mind when they bought liquor and 81% said they intended to consume what they bought within a few hours of purchase.
This compared to just 25% of over 55s buying for specific occasion, and only 22% buying for short-term consumption.
“Consequently, younger shoppers had a much broader range of occasions in mind when they bought liquor, over-indexing on range of socialising and gifting occasions,” Shukri noted.
The Shopper Intelligence forecast for 2020
Shukri said it will be interesting to see if smaller format stores can maintain the excellent trajectory they achieved with shoppers last year.
“We’ve seen Dan Murphy’s responding to changes in shopper attitudes over the last 12 months, so we’ll be assessing the shopper reaction as they’ve pivoted towards discovery and ‘customer first ranging’,” he said.
“Look out in particular for shifts in satisfaction with premium options and pack variants. Big box arguably has more scope to push the envelope at the upper end of the price and quality spectrum, but convenience players are well positioned to offer smaller ‘grab and go’ that speak to the growing demand for liquor on the move.”
After significant improvement on healthy options between 2018 and 2019, Shukri said it will be interesting to see if the off-premise can repeat that performance.
“A number of operators, including Dan Murphy’s, Liquorland and BWS have ramped up their in-store messaging around health, but I wonder if there is enough clarity and consistency as yet to give shoppers the help they want to navigate to the choices they’re looking for.
“One of the best examples I’ve seen recently was in Liquorland, where zero alcohol and vegan wine options were merchandised together on a standalone fixture. The value of this approach will vary by department, so the key will be whether shoppers at category level are planning more or less based on type compared to last year.”
Shukri noted that the latter part of 2019 was clearly a very challenging time for many Australian communities during the bushfires and may have impacted the way people bought liquor.
“If we look over a longer time frame however, we would expect the ongoing trends around health, convenience and premiumisation to persist,” he said.
Shukri said the new research would shed more light on several key questions: are store layouts evolving fast enough to meet modern shoppers’ needs? Are the right categories situated optimally and do ranges reflect the way today’s liquor shopper uses each particular category?
For more information on the Shopper Intelligence Off-Premise Liquor program, contact David Shukri on 0455 155 020 or firstname.lastname@example.org