It is no secret that the big supermarkets are just beginning to recover from their long term hangovers caused by the ongoing disruptions to the market and dramatic changes in consumers’ behaviours and patterns. The likelihood is that the retail landscape will remain foggy for some time and it is not business as usual despite what some retailers claim.
Of course the big grocers can’t sit around waiting for the future to be written and much as they have done in the past, it’s likely they’ll look to define – at least in part – what the future brings by leading the way and hoping their competitors follow suit. Where better to lead that charge than in the specific areas where supermarkets remain the main ‘go to’ destination for certain categories and products – such an example being the ‘alcoholic drinks’ aisle.
With little more than a bit of consideration and imagination, supermarkets could certainly benefit from greater investment in this area, increasing footfall and revenues as a consequence.
General consensus is that the big supermarkets are in need of a review of their packaged goods brand(s) across the board and it is likely they may well come out even more strongly in favour of creating distinct and category leading own brand products. The drinks aisle is perfectly placed to lead, helping to increase margin as well as sending a clear message to consumers and opinion formers that when it comes to selling alcohol there is no room for under-priced and lack-lustre booze.
To deliver on this new perspective, supermarkets would be required to put a stop to lazily creating me-too products and rip-off brands and focus their attentions on creating a clear and distinctive design language for their own brands in this sector. It is notoriously difficult in drinks to cross drink types – eg., vodka distillers distilling whisky and making wine in their spare time – whilst retaining credibility, but it can be done if there is clarity around provenance and in expressing in what way and how you have permission to play in multiple areas. One potential route is in shifting emphasis away from ‘distillery or wine maker’ as in the past, and in acting as a ‘procurer and discoverer’ of new and exciting products and liquids that are unique and exclusive to particular stores. This is a tried and tested approach, undertaken for example by Trader Vics in the US.
The start of this journey would lie in supermarkets demonstrating their commitment to and appreciation of the changing drinks landscape and then championing the educational and emotional journey that consumers desire to be taken on. If consumers can be transitioned beyond the supermarket aisle and into a world of discovery and adventure, then they are much more likely to snap out of auto pilot and engage on a different level when shopping.
Clearly the big four supermarkets have a number of more challenging priorities to overcome before they come out of the other side of these difficult times and building a strong drinks brand offer isn’t a silver bullet to any of their fundamental woes. However, sometimes you have to be at the forefront of a number of small movements to demonstrate bigger and more holistic changes within a business.
Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!