Three off-premise liquor 2024 shopper opportunities

Apr 22, 2024

David ShukriBy David Shukri, Client Service Director, Australia

Shopper Intelligence and Drinks Association members are just weeks away from accessing the latest read on shoppers in off-premise liquor.

This update, covering the 12 months to March this year, will offer vital clues about how shoppers are responding to ongoing economic uncertainty and what they make of the industry’s effort to keep retail liquor engaging.

In anticipation, we asked our Shopper Intelligence liquor experts to gaze into their crystal balls and pick out the three big themes they expect to shape off-premise liquor 2024.

1. Arresting the satisfaction slide

Shopper satisfaction has notably declined in the post-COVID era. Our survey of over 20,000 shoppers last year revealed a significant drop in satisfaction that saw the off-premise channel go back to the level it was last at in 2019. Shoppers in most major banners registered their displeasure, with declines across Coles Liquor banners especially pronounced.

From a product perspective, RTD shoppers remained the least content with the off-premise offer, with spirits shoppers not too far ahead.

What the team said:

“It’s hard to imagine big increases in overall satisfaction in off-premise liquor in 2024, given the pressure on household budgets and the ongoing impact of inflation at shelf.”

“If the industry can make some headway in simplifying the proposition, reducing range complexity, and balancing promotional activity with engagement and inspiration, there will be pockets of improvement to look out for.”

“The 35-44 age group might still be grumpy, but this could be the year the channel turns a corner with younger drinkers whose satisfaction levels last year were pretty good compared to those of their parents.”

2. Unpicking value for money

We live in a world dominated by price. It is, without doubt, a key focus when shoppers set foot in a liquor store. But the evidence was clear last year that price is not the sole focus of all shoppers, in all categories, on all occasions.

In fact, less than 50% of categories saw the importance of price increase in 2023 compared with the year before. To put that further into context, the importance of having a good range of healthy choices increased in more categories than did the importance of price.

What the team said:

“Foolish are those who ignore price, but, in truth, the same has to be said of value for money. More than one in seven shoppers last year planned to buy whatever was the best value for money on the day in liquor and we expect that to rise this year. So retailers and brands must invest the time to discover what signals value for money at category and segment levels.”

“Upweighting other aspects of the offer where it matters most won’t just benefit in one category or the other – it will also allow more space for the price message to breathe, and that will help where dollar value is most critical too.”

3. Tailoring for the occasion opportunity

Over the years, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that different generations shop liquor differently. Those under 35 are considerably more likely to have a specific occasion in mind, and within that, social moments in the home play a big role. It’s no coincidence that this group was much less enamored with the liquor channel again last year. In general, liquor stores in 2023 still didn’t do as great a job for this group as they did for those over 35, typically stocking up or buying for ‘general consumption.’

What the team said:

”We haven’t seen a widespread transformation in the last twelve months that would suggest occasion-based shoppers are top of mind, so this is likely to remain a big opportunity for someone to grasp.”

“At-home consumption occasions will doubtless be on the rise but which categories and banners have harnessed that shift best remains to be seen.”

“We do know the biggest satisfaction gaps between those shopping for an occasion and those buying for everyday drinking exist around execution, and that of course means things like store and shelf layout. Big things to tackle for sure, and to do so takes good insights, great collaboration, and a touch of courage too.”

Shopper Intelligence subscribers receive exclusive updates on the latest off-premise liquor trends directly in their inboxes.

This article originally appeared in The Drinks Association March bulletin and reposted here with permission.

For more shopper insights and behaviours to help you win buy-in from your trading partners, contact us here.