ALSA USA Study Tour Retail Insights

21 February, 2018 by Andy Young

By Shane T Williams

Occasion-based retailing is still at the forefront of how good retailers should market their store, this was a key finding from the small group of 15 suppliers and retailers who attended the ALSA NYC study tour lead by Mal Higgs last week.

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The group also identified three main themes that linked ‘occasion-based’ retailing to what they had seen during their 20-plus store visits in the highly regulated New York State and less regulated Jersey markets.

‘More story, less price’, that was the theme in New York State, particularly Manhattan, where, due to strict regulations on ownership and discounting, the emphasis was on ‘store provenance’. The in-store experience promoted ‘story telling’; around craft spirits, particularly American whiskies and European wines.

Ticketing, promotion and layouts focused more on ‘managers’ picks’ or educating consumers about brands in-store. There were very few catalogues, no heavy discounting and the focus was on ‘story telling’ and brand awareness rather than ‘price’.

Pack formats, the second theme the study tour picked up, again linked back to the ‘occasion’.

“If we are heading down the path of occasion-based retailing, then we need various pack formats to service these different occasions,” said ALSA President Giuseppe Minissale. Pack formats varied right across the beer, spirit and wine categories.

Wine in can is coming to Australia. This format has made in-roads in the US and is heading down under. Recently Dan Murphy’s have ranged a number of SKUs while a number of major Australian suppliers are looking into this category.

Miniatures, 500ml and one-litre format spirits were a play in both the NY and Jersey markets. The study group found these different formats could play a role in the Australian market. Miniatures may work well in high density, high traffic stores, particularly those near transport hubs. The 500ml play could be an opportunity for consumers to buy more premium spirits and still stay within their price range, while larger formats could target both the on-trade and brand-loyal consumers.

Other interesting pack formats the study tour identified as retail opportunities included wood packed premium French wine casks (priced at $US35) as well as magnums of sparkling rosé and Champagne.

The last theme the study group identified was ‘captivating the shopper’. With a market that is not driven by price or catalogues, there is a greater need to stay relevant and touch consumers out of the store.

The study group observed that most wine stores have some type of ‘click and collect’ as well as a desk where staff phoned or emailed customers. In some instances stores did approximately 40 per cent of their business either online or over the phone, not in-store.

You can read a fuller version of the ALSA NYC Study Tour and it’s finding in the April issue of National Liquor News. The full findings will be presented at the ALSA Australian Retail Drinks Conference later in the year.