Who's the daddy?

18 June, 2015

Fathers have a tough gig: burdened by long hours and no pay, they find themselves replaced in their marriages by 50 Shades of Grey, surrounded by toddlers that act like a blender without a lid and teenagers that steal their credit cards and pout a lot. 

But it is all worth it, because on one day each year they are rewarded for their endeavours with a card that says something like “Happy Father’s Day to my second least embarrassing parent on Facebook” and a present bought with their own money.

That present is generally whisky, as whisky is the archetypal dad gift.

This is good news for retailers, who can champion a range of expensive whiskies in-store in the build up to the big day, which falls on June 21 this year.

Suppliers realise the potential of this day to boost sales – research from Glenfiddich supplier William Grant suggests that “Father’s Day is a key date for spirits gifts, and 40% of spirits gifts are Scotch whisky” because it has “strong emotional links, particularly with dads” – so they go all out with a range of gift tins, miniature selections and limited-editions. 

Nick Temperley, head of reserve brands at Diageo, says: “Father’s Day is the second largest sales peak outside Christmas for whisky and a great opportunity to attract new shoppers into the category.

“Sales of Diageo malts around Father’s Day last year grew by 27% [Nielsen] so we’re really excited to be building on this momentum with Haig Club this year.”

Haig Club, lest we forget, is the single grain whisky Diageo launched in partnership with David Beckham last year.

Golden Balls may have won several trophies throughout a glittering career that took in Manchester United, Real Madrid and the mighty LA Galaxy, including the Champions League in 1999, but those accolades can’t come close to being named the “ultimate celebrity dad” by Good Housekeeping magazine and “the celebrity dad we most admire” by Hello.

And this year he is up for Celebrity Dad of the Year, competing against the likes of Gary Barlow and Prince William.

Haig Club embodies Beckham – the liquid is sweet and gentle, but full of character, and the bottle is bold and stylish – and it is well worth championing in the run-up to the big day.

If you needed extra incentive, Diageo has relaunched the exclusive gift pack it debuted at Christmas.

The design showcases Haig Club in a luxury white gift box in a bid to create “maximum visibility on shelf ” and comes with an rrp of £45 for a 70cl bottle.

It costs a premium, but the nation’s loving sons and daughters are sure to be generous when wielding their fathers’ credit cards.

For those dads who like their whiskies a little bolder, smokier or peatier, look no further than the portfolios of Ian Macleod or Maxxium.

Neil Boyd, director at Ian Macleod, says: “Father’s Day is one of the key dates for Scotch whisky, particularly single malt, and it is the perfect gift at this time.”

Maxxium has identified Father’s Day as a key opportunity for retailers – particularly in the convenience channel – and urges them to review their spirits aisles, particularly the whisky section, to capitalise on the occasion.

It agrees that: “Father’s Day is the biggest whisky gifting opportunity outside the Christmas period, driving sales of premium malts.” During the week before, sales increase by 80% (Nielsen) in the convenience channel.

To help retailers make the most of this sales spike, Maxxium is offering The Macallan Gold, Laphroaig 10 Year Old and Highland Park 12 Year Old in 70cl and 35cl bottles, packaged in gift cartons.

Fractionals represent 54% of spirits bottles sold in the impulse channel (Nielsen, year to March 2015) and allow shoppers to buy premium spirits at a more accessible price point.

They also offer retailers a higher margin as malts yield the highest price per litre of all spirits (Nielsen).

The Macallan Gold and Highland Park 12 Year Old are also available to retailers to buy in four-pack cases, specially created for the channel to help with cash flow and stock management.

Andrew Morrison, Maxxium’s sales controller for cash and carry and impulse, says: “Father’s Day is a huge gifting occasion and a real opportunity for retailers.

“We know that malt whisky sales spike in the lead-up to Father’s Day so it is the ideal time to stock premium malts. Maxxium UK is offering its leading malts in smaller formats and smaller case sizes, giving our customers the ability to stock brands such as The Macallan, Laphroaig and Highland Park to meet shopper needs.”

In the online channels, personalised whiskies are big business. Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, Chivas Regal, Aberlour and The Famous Grouse are among the brands that have tapped into consumers’ appetite for personalised products in the build-up to Father’s Day by giving them the chance to create bespoke whisky labels on which they can write messages such as “Happy Father’s Day from your little mistake”. Pernod Ricard marketing director Dan Reuby says consumers find these personalised spirits “compelling”.

Online retailer Master of Malt sells own-label in this fashion. Shoppers can select a style of Scotch and personalise the label with a message. A Speyside single malt costs £54.90 while a 60-year-old Speyside costs £1,009.90.

This site represents the pinnacle of online retailing – it is a serial Drinks Retailing Award winner – and it has come up with a range of innovative ideas to cash in on the day.

A luxury Father’s Day tasting set containing 10 x 3cl samples of famous drams from Islay and Speyside, Isle of Jura 21 Year Old and Caol Ila 12 Year Old retails at £56.95.

Shoppers are often scared of buying whisky because of its confusing and daunting range of styles and flavours, so gift sets taking in a range of styles are always a winner.

Master of Malt offers a host of gift sets, and more confident shoppers can even blend their own whisky according to their father’s tastes.

Rival The Whisky Exchange has a Father’s Day gift finder tool on its site which helps shoppers find the right spirit or wine for their fathers based on taste profiles.

Away from whisky, Majestic is offering a Father’s Day mixed case of six bottles, red and white, from France, Spain, South Africa and Argentina, for £59.19, of which £5 goes to the charity Prostate Cancer UK.

Virgin Wines is targeting sons and daughters with a Father’s Day hamper featuring Ol’ Grafter Wrattonbully Shiraz Cabernet, along with cheese melts, canapé oatcakes, chutneys, pâté and pork crackling, retailing at £34.99.

Head of communications David Wyatt says: “We have a brand new range of gifts by Virgin Wines, including personalised bottles of wine, hampers and whiskey sets with hip flasks.”

Independent wine and spirits merchants are busy stocking up on quirky bottles that are unlikely to feature on multiples’ shelves in the build-up to Father’s Day.

Kelli Coxhead, owner of The Wine Shop in Winscombe, Somerset, says: “We do better on Father’s Day than on Mother’s Day, because men are more associated with whisky, red wine, port, brandy – those sorts of things.

“When a customer comes in looking to buy something for their father, I ask about his tastes to find out what he wants, and more often than not it’s a bottle of top-end Bordeaux or a port. That’s the sort of thing we often sell, something a bit special.

“And when it comes to whisky, we offer them something different, such as a Welsh or English whisky, or something from South Africa or Japan.

“We have a great one from Holland called Millstone. It is a family producer with a windmill on the property, and does gin as well, and that has done really well.

“We try to have things in that are more male-focused. Niepoort’s The Senior port, a tawny, comes in a short, fat, dumpy bottle that has a moustache on it. That one does well.

“The other one that relates to men and does well is Old Boy, a 21-year-old Australian tawny fortified wine from De Bortoli. Frapin Cognac is a good one too.

“We will have wines open on Saturday, June 13, and Saturday, June 20, that people might like to buy for their dads.

“We also run tasting events and people can buy vouchers and pay for their dads to go on tastings. We have Portugal, New Zealand and gin tastings coming up, and they can book their dads a place.”

Last year Father’s Day boosted trade in the retail channel by £200 million (Mintel) and with consumer confidence and disposable income slowly creeping back towards pre-recession levels and retailers displaying increasingly innovative strategies, there is every chance Father’s Day 2015 could provide an even greater shot in the arm.




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