The multiple buyers’ opinions on whisky

20 August, 2010

What focus have you put on Scotch over the past year to increase sales?Mark Suddaby,

spirits category manager, Tesco: We have blocked brands in the fixture more clearly by stripping out peripheral whisky lines, and giving more space to the main brands. We are ensuring any NPD has real heritage. If you remove products which no one has heard of, you allow space for exciting brands such as the broader Johnnie Walker range, J&B Rare or Monkey Shoulder. Taking out four or five tertiary blends at £9 or £10 allows us the space to bring in better-quality lines.

Vanessa Pearson, spirits buyer, Sainsbury’s: Scotch is an established category so maintenance of a compelling promotional plan has been important to give ongoing relevance to customers. Innovation through mid-tier ranges and within malts is important to ensure the category does not become dependent only on promotional activity.

Which suppliers have impressed you most with value-added promotions/attracting new consumers?MS: Reserve Brands portfolio from Diageo. We recently put an offer in store on J&B Rare along with some other upmarket drinks and 12% of customers who purchased were totally new to the spirits category. By promoting upmarket products to approximately mainstream price points, we give customers the opportunity to trade up and stay up.

VP: We worked with Maxxium and Diageo this year to deliver a bespoke Father’s Day solution with exclusive gift packaging – The Famous Dad Gift Carton and Number One Dad neck tag respectively, which saw good results.

How much do consumers understand the category and what more needs to be done? ?MS: Customers were confused by the amount of choice at similar price points. Cleaning that up allows us more depth. They understand the difference between a blend and single malt. Beyond that their understanding decreases – particularly the distinction between a standard blend like Bell’s and an upmarket blend. A lack of customer understanding for a product like the Dalmore makes it too expensive to put on our shelves. We must continue to build on customer education at the shelf edge with appropriate signage.

VP: There are different levels of customer understanding of the product and category. Our challenge as retailers is to make the category relevant to customers all year round and to create a dialogue with them.

What’s your bestselling whisky?MS: Our Private Label range. We have just invested in significantly better packaging to reflect this.

VP: We have good level of sales from all the main brands such as The Famous Grouse, Bell’s, Grant’s and Teacher’s as well as a strong own-label range.

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Is blended Scotch overshadowed by single malt in retailers?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Don't know