With the summer full of potential thanks to major sporting events and the prospect of some sun, retailers are no doubt rubbing their hands together at the thought of all the extra alcohol sales that the next few months could bring.

Dennis Williams of Premier Broadway, Edinburgh, believes that this summer is going to be a big one, and he is getting ready to make the most of it through his alcohol category. “It’s really another summer of sport, with the World Cup, the Commonwealth Games, Wimbledon and the Ryder Cup all backing into each other,” he says. “There’ll be something happening from early June all the way to September, which helps alcohol sales. People are staying in more to watch these sporting events as they don’t have the money to go to the pub, which works to our advantage.”

Dennis urges retailers to keep a closer eye on their alcohol sales in order to maximise returns from the category. “It’s important to be disciplined when it comes to alcohol,” he points out. “You need to look regularly at what’s selling and what isn’t when deciding your range, as well as look at the same period for the previous year to get a better idea of seasonal trends.”

A taste of the unusual to tempt drinkers

When stocking for the summer, it’s important to stay crafty. According to Mintel, 25% of British adults have consumed a craft beer in the past six months, and 35% of beer drinkers believe that a craft brand is worth paying more for. With the warm weather approaching, will craft beers remain as popular to consumers over the summer?

Graham Archibald, Morgenrot national account director, believes the summer is the perfect time for stores to dip their toe into the craft beer scene. “The World Cup coincides nicely with the rise in interest in the craft beer scene, which has demonstrated that consumers want to discover new tastes and trial different beers,” he says.

“Retailers shouldn’t be scared to stock an array of different craft and speciality beers from home and abroad as consumers are enjoying the variety and authenticity, which means brewed in a traditional way with traditional ingredients.”

Brookfield Drinks managing director Nigel McNally believes the timing is perfect for c-store retailers. He says stocking craft beers creates a wider offering for customers, and provides an opportunity to think British and stock locally made produce. “Of course, warm weather is always good news for beer and lager retailers,” he says. “However, to really capitalise on the barbecue season, retailers need to diversify their offering. At the moment, those spaces are dominated by European and world lagers.

“On the continent there is a strong demand for domestic premium lagers and it is our view that this will be mirrored within the next 10 years in the UK. While lager sales have been going backwards in many retail stores, the ale and cider sectors have been growing through increased diversity. British craft lager is the way forward to address the decline in UK lager sales.”

Londis retail director John Pattison says the group reported strong sales last year, driven by the alcohol category. “The July sales in Londis were very strong due to the mini heatwave, with an impulse market growth of 10%,” he says. “The drivers of performance were half-price wine, which captured 65% of all Londis promotion sales during the period. Additionally, we did very well with bottled cider, canned cider, multipack canned and bottled lager, with standout brands such as Foster’s, Foster’s Gold, Radler, Bulmers flavours, Strongbow Pear and Strongbow standard pricemarked packs.”

Pattison says that if the weather holds out, all retailers will be in for a successful summer, especially in the alcohol category. “The weather can impact sales of almost any category,” he says. “Of course, warmer weather brings with it more outdoor parties and barbecue gatherings, which can be a catalyst for beers, wines and spirits sales.”

Mark Calloway of Bargain Booze in Salisbury, Wiltshire, is also hopeful for a strong summer. “It’s the World Cup, and that equates to beer and lager sales increasing,” he says. “Hot weather helps as well. When it’s warm, sales of alcohol rise.”

Mark has already planned out his alcohol range and promotions for the summer. “We’ll be focusing on price rather than linked deals, as it’s price that will attract customers to the store,” he asserts.

Pattison believes that the staples will be successful this summer, especially with all the sporting events taking place. “Beer and cider are the categories which will be key for the World Cup,” he says. “Looking back at the 2010 World cup, 29% of beer consumers were new buyers, contributing £84m to the category - it’s a chance to attract new shoppers and increase basket spend.”

All about deals

He advises retailers to shout about the offers they have in store. “Great promotions and offers are vital to helping retailers maximise footfall and profit leading up to and over the World Cup season,” Pattison explains. “Londis will encourage retailers to display multipack can and bottles from four to six weeks before the tournament begins, as this will alert shoppers to the value offering and capture early pre-tournament sales, with four-pack can and four- and six-pack bottles being the core business of convenience once the tournament is under way.”

Pattison also urges retailers to build any sporting merchandise offering around the alcohol section. “It’s important to note that World Cup regalia - scarves, hats, balls, mini goals, flags, posters, timetables and so on - are key to signposting the beer aisle and alcohol chillers,” he says

Satminder Deo of Costcutter Wath in Rotherham says there’s always a spike in off-licence sales when it comes to the summer. “Alcohol always does well in the summer as people are out and about more, especially if the weather is good,” he says. “Cider was the sub-category that drove an increase in sales last year, especially the fruit variants. Brands such as Strongbow Dark Fruits and Kopparberg did well.”

The lines didn’t sell themselves, though. “We really went for it on promotions and theatre with these brands, and it really paid off in sales,” he recalls.

Ben Turner, customer marketing manager at Kopparberg, agrees that retailers need to go big for the summer. “As we witnessed last summer, it’s imperative to make the most of the weather,” he says. “Kopparberg experienced year-on-year growth of 88% through July and August 2013 in the off trade. If we get the same conditions again then it’s super-important to ensure retailers are stocking what consumers are asking for.”

Everything in moderation

The mover to healthier living is no longer restricted to what the nation eats, but now what it drinks. As such, the moderate sub-category is seeing sobering growth.

Total value sales are currently worth £45m and growing at 62.4% year on year (IRI Value sales to August 2013 Total Off Trade).

According to Heineken’s Craig Clarkson, the moderation sub-category is a big opportunity for retailers. Heineken believes it will be worth £300m by 2023 if stores get the offering right. “It’s a great long-term opportunity as long as the products are marketed as ‘beer plus’ rather than focusing on the minus, and if retailers have a moderation display,” he says. “Convenience has been slower on the uptake of moderate innovation and has been waiting to see how it works before trying it, but retailers still need to get in early to capitalise.”

To drive innovation in the category, Heineken has added a range of lower-ABV products. It has extended its Foster’s Radler range to include a 2% ABV lime & ginger and a 0.0% Orginal, and has also rolled out two new Bulmers Cider variants, both with a 2.8% ABV. Five Fruit Harvest and Indian Summer are available now.

Turner says that fruit cider was one of the success stories of 2013, and he hopes the sub-category will see a repeat performance in 2014. “Fruit flavoured ciders have continued to grow during 2013 and this has been the main driver of growth for the category as a whole,” he says. “The fruit sub-category has increased in value by more than 64% from the previous year during 2013 and is leading the way. Ensuring incremental space for cider, whether that’s in fridges or on stacks, will maximise the advantage of the summer months for the category and help to drive sales.”

Old and new

With sales coming from emerging areas, retailers may feel that it’s time to shake up their alcohol offering. Much like Roy Hodgson being forced to choose between the old guard and new blood for the England team, retailers must decide which brands they should be stocking. But with so much NPD entering the market, they may be in danger of feeling overwhelmed.

Dennis believes that there’s an opportunity for retailers to make additional sales from the newcomers, but warns that the core range shouldn’t be overlooked. “It’s vital that you keep your core range topped up and looking fresh, with some new lines thrown in to mix things up and attract customers,” he says.

Raj Aggarwal of Londis Wigston in Leicestershire says that the question of core versus innovation in alcohol is a tricky one to manage. “It’s important to be able to allow customers to trade up, but you don’t want to do it at the expense of your core sales,” he says. “Core is what gets people in the store and coming back to you.”

To walk this delicate tightrope, Raj suggests splitting the week in two. “Early on in the week is when core sells best, so make sure the staple ranges are fully stocked up and ready for Monday,” he says.

“Then when it gets closer to the weekend start stocking some NPD as people are looking for something a bit different towards the end of the week.”

Kopparberg’s Turner thinks along the same lines. “Make space for broad ranges, but don’t neglect the big-hitters,” he advises. “While there’s a lot of NPD within cider and drinks as a whole, it’s important that retailers focus on the proven winners. Innovation is healthy, but by picking proven winners you give your consumers the brands that they expect to see on the shelf.”

In Brief

International Brands adds wines

International Brands has created a new range under the Broadleaf banner. Featuring nine varietals from Australia, Chile and California, with ABVs ranging from 11%-13.5%, the range is available through Palmer & Harvey.

Kopparberg’s raspberry to stay

Kopparberg has made its seasonal variant raspberry a permanent line. Traditionally, the product is available only during the summer, but due to demand on the brand’s social media channels it will be available all year.

World Beers unveils Amazon beer range

World Beers is looking to take advantage of interest in the World Cup with 
two unique beers from Brazil’s most successful craft brewery - Cervejaria Amazonia. The lines include Forest Pilsen, a full-bodied beer, and the Forest Bacuri, a citrus fruit beer. Both have ABVs of 4.1% and come in 33cl bottles.

Carling British Cider in cherry

Molson Coors has added a cherry variant of Carling British Cider. The 4% ABV cider comes in 500ml bottles in singles (rrp £2.15) or packs of six (rrp £12). The launch is being supported alongside the original Carling British Cider variant in a £4m advertising campaign which includes TV, outdoor and digital.

Summer rising

Budweiser will be going big on marketing ahead of this summer’s World Cup. The next wave of its ‘Rise As One’ World Cup campaign will air on TV on 24 May. As the only official alcohol sponsor of the tournament, Budweiser will also be launching a limited-edition aluminium trophy bottle and new easy-to-carry version of its 18-can and six-bottle packs.

Media push for Brancott Estate

Brancott Estate has embarked on a new media campaign to celebrate the brand’s heritage. Running across print, online, mobile and social media channels, the campaign will highlight the brand’s status within the wine category. The ads are signed off with the brand’s ‘Be Curious’ strapline.

Ginger Grouse ups profile

Ginger Grouse has become the official pint partner of Tough Mudder UK. Distributed by Maxxium, the alcoholic ginger beer will be part of all UK events this year and will be seen by the 200,000 participants and spectators.

New look for Echo Falls

Echo Falls has unveiled a refreshed look for its two-tier collection. Aiming for a more modern look, the label shape, gold neck seal and colours have all been updated.

Henry Westons unveils jazz promotion

Henry Westons is running an on-pack promotion to celebrate its on-going partnership with Cheltenham Jazz Festival. The activity gives consumers the chance to win a trip to Jazz Fest in New Orleans. The promotion will be supported by a consumer media and social media campaign. There are also music vouchers to be won.