It is therefore the perfect time for retailers to convince consumers to spend their hard-earned end-of- year bonuses in the off-trade rather than meeting the exorbitant prices demanded by their on-trade rivals.
Tell them something along the lines of: “The cheap bar you frequent throughout the year is charging you £70 to simply step over the threshold and sip a lukewarm glass of Prosecco as the countdown begins. Instead, why not buy two bottles of bubbly, some nice wine and a load of food, and have change to spare, and have a party at home? That way you won’t have to fall over crying revellers on your way to the toilet, fight to get home as 700,000 people try to get the same train, or be served by people who are miserable because they’re on the wrong side of the bar.”
A bottle of Cîroc – the ultimate blinging, P Diddy-endorsed party night drink – could cost around £200 if you want to slap a glowing bottle on your table in a swanky nightclub. Or you could buy it for less than £30 in the off-trade and have friends round to make cocktails.
Nick Temperley, head of reserve brands at Cîroc supplier Diageo, says: “Cîroc lends itself perfectly to those consumers hosting a New Year’s Eve party. Consumers want to enjoy the same brands at home that they are choosing to drink in bars and premium vodkas have become increasingly popular, particularly when celebrating.
“To add excitement to celebrations such as New Year’s Eve, retailers should be listing brands that are synonymous with celebration. For those special occasions consumers are looking to impress their company and give themselves a treat, and this is where luxury spirit brands such as Johnnie Walker and Cîroc are the perfect choice for the big night in.
“Retailers can drive sales during this period by having a particular in-store focus on luxury spirits, as consumers are often happy to trade up for special occasions. Giving these spirits premium positioning in-store is advisable during this period and will reinforce the celebratory focus.”
Retailers should also help shoppers recreate the bar experience at home by promoting drinks designed to be drunk in shots during the build-up to New Year’s Eve, according to Jägermeister.
Its marketing director Nicole Goodwin says: “New Year’s Eve is just as important as Christmas as customers are still looking to trade up and stock up for this important party season.
“Shot or party spirits currently account for 15.2% of the total spirits value in the on-trade, however it only accounts for 1.4% of the total spirits value in the off-trade [Nielsen and CGA data, year to July 2014], presenting a huge opportunity to make the most of the party season and up-sell with bestselling spirits.
“Retailers should make sure they stock a good range of festive spirits as approximately 50% of party shot spirits purchases are incremental, adding to retailers’ profits at this important time of the year.
“Consumers are looking to recreate their on-trade experiences at home at a more accessible price- point. This growing trend has seen consumer demand for fractionals increase substantially, with double- digit growth for key spirits within the category. Retailers should therefore ensure they stock a variety of sizes.
“In the on-trade, many consumers start their evening drinking beer or cider then switch to Jägermeister. To replicate this trend in-store, we also recommend putting Jägermeister adjacent to a popular beer brand – ideally in the fridge – and include spirit branded stickers on fridges with suggested serves.”
Ed Shoebridge, head of customer marketing at Magners supplier C&C Group, adds: “Like Christmas, New Year’s Eve is an important period for retailers with the last two weeks of the festive trading period showing the highest levels of growth (Nielsen, 12 weeks to January 4, 2014).
“New Year’s Eve is a huge occasion for staying in with friends and, as a result, has become an important period for retailers to focus on consumers’ need to top up on their way to house parties.
“To capitalise on this market, retailers should ensure their cider range is clearly merchandised with top sellers and easy-carry multipacks clearly visible.
“We recently launched our Magners Orchard Berries 4x50cl PMP can to the impulse channel. This launch is in response to the growing trend for the easy-carry PMP can format and is perfectly timed to coincide with festive shoppers looking for an easy-carry format to bring to New Year’s parties. “New Year’s Eve is a popular occasion for consumers to splash out and trade up their drinks choices. The premiumisation of cider is a concept we have become familiar with and it is an important period for retailers to promote their premium and craft cider range to consumers who want to treat themselves as they ring in the New Year.”
So synonymous is drinking alcohol with New Year’s Eve that author PJ O’Rourke once said: “The proper behaviour all through the holiday season is to be drunk. The drunkenness culminates on New Year’s Eve, when you get so drunk you kiss the person you’re married to.”
Yet retailers must spare a thought for the teetotallers and designated drivers, and Fran Draper, brand manager for Eisberg alcohol-free wine, says: “We see a significant increase in sales over the Christmas and New Year period as shoppers pick up a wider range of non- alcoholic options to cater for guests who may not be drinking alcohol.
“Consumers are becoming increasingly demanding, looking for new and exciting flavours to enjoy at home and this is more prevalent at New Year, as well as Christmas, as hosts look to impress.
“We need to help shoppers with new ways to enjoy their favourite drinks. Eisberg has created a range of mocktail recipes with an expert mixologist that will help the more adventurous consumer enjoy the wines through multiple serving suggestions.”