Pernod Ricard urges trade to get behind premium sales this Christmas

Pernod Ricard is spearheading its 2013 Christmas campaign with a raft of new products, including a vodka launch already successful in the United States, a lower-alcohol variety for its flagship wine brand, Brancott Estate, and mainstream brandy, Domecq 1820.

Pernod Ricard estimates the overall beers, wines and spirits Christmas market to be worth £4.1 billion, of which wine accounts for £1.4 billion and spirits £1.2 billion. It hopes to capture more of the festive market in 2013 following its most extensive consumer research analysing shopping behaviour in the build up to Christmas.

For the 2012 Christmas period Pernod Ricard interviewed 2,000 customers both before and after Christmas to determine what they could to do attract more consumers to the wine and spirits aisles and to their products in particular.

The research found that not only did consumers find most BWS festive aisles uninspiring, but confusing, cluttered and lacking in real innovation. Whilst still facing recessionary pressures, Christmas shoppers still wanted to treat themselves and their friends and family, and were looking for products and ranges that excited them, were value for money and made shopping easier.

Pernod Ricard is to place even greater emphasis this Christmas on the independent, cash and carry and impulse sectors. It identified these channels as being the outlets where consumers were less price sensitive and more likely to trade up, but where shoppers felt frustrated by indifferent ranges, and little theatre or gifting opportunities.  Convenience was best placed to attract distressed purchases and where discounting should be kept to a minimum.

It also expects consumers to shop even more across different channels this Christmas, following an increase from 29% to 57% in 2012 of people using both retail and online sites for their festive shopping.

Pernod Ricard said it is working harder than ever with the trade to move away from discounting on standard BWS products, particularly on spirits, in the build up to Christmas and to instead look to drive more value by introducing more point of sale, theatre and product information.

“Discounting on standard products prevents trading up,” said Simon von Moppes, commercial director.

He urged the trade to get behind premium brands, particularly in the spirits category, as premium spirits account for 37% of sales in the final weeks before Christmas. He pointed to research that showed  that in the 12 weeks to Christmas value and standard products dropped 4% and 5% in sales respectively, whereas premium spirits were up 8%, prestige spirits 6% and ultra-premium up 8%.

Pernod Ricard predicted gifting in the spirits category will be even more popular this Christmas. Already 28% of consumers would buy a spirits brand as a main gift and see them as an “under the tree” present. Up to 50% of all gifting volume on spirits is now in the three weeks to Christmas.

It would be introducing a number of gifting options, particularly around whisky, the most popular gifting category, with a premium whisky selection pack for £12 and a Glenlivet selection pack for £35.

On-trade push

Pernod Ricard urged all on-trade outlets from the mainstream through to the luxury sector to get behind premium spirits this Christmas as spirit-based drinks accounted for one in three drinks in 2012. Premium spirits’ share of the market goes up from an average of 35% to 38% over the festive period.

It is looking to offer on-trade outlets a range of recipe ideas for both long and hot drinks this Christmas with a Premium Cocktail Portfolio brochure showcasing how its range of premium spirits can be served.

Wine offer

The trade, urged Pernod Ricard, should also see the Christmas period as a time to push premium wine (above £6.50) and not focus on price savings, but more on added-value promotions, point of sale, theatre and better product information.

Sparkling wine and Champagne were also key to a successful Christmas with 36% and 46% of their sales coming during the festive period respectively. Sparkling wine has been the fastest-growing BWS category over Christmas for the past two years.

New launches

Its key product launches this Christmas include Odka, a new flavoured vodka range that was launched to key international markets earlier in the year. It is bringing an initial five Odka flavours to the market, including Electricity and Salty Caramel Popcorn, and will be on shelf in September, in 50cl bottles, in both the on and off-trades with a £9.49 rrp with 20% promotion. Its Electricity brands will be priced at £11.49 as it has a higher abv.

It is also introducing Domecq 1820 a Solera Reserva Brandy to the “everyday brandy market” aimed at men in the 50-plus age bracket. It is being sold in 50cl bottles with a 36% abv. It is expected to be in stores in October with a rrp of £14 with £3 off on promotion.

It is again making some of its spirits brands available in 50cl bottles (Absolut Original, Malibu, Oddka, Domecq, Chivas 18 year old) which it sees as an increasingly important category.

Brancott Estate Flight is a new lower-alcohol variant of its New Zealand brand and will be released in October, initially in Sainsbury’s with a recommended price of £10.49 and has a 9.5% abv. It follows Jacob’s Creek Cool Harvest lower alcohol brand that was introduced last month in Tesco.

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