Convenience stores must improve beer and cider fixtures to boost profits

11 March, 2016

Convenience store owners can boost beer and cider sales exponentially by focusing on ease of shop, value for money and meeting consumer occasions, according to a leading supplier.

Molson Coors has identified convenience as the key opportunity for growth in beer and cider and has set about educating retailers via its 60 Second Shop website.

It has now signed up more than 1,200 retailers and is helping them boost sales with a range of tools.

They include tips, videos and interactive elements to help with merchandising and the product mix.

Retailers can download a tailored planogram by detailing the area they are in, the size of their chiller and the type of store they have – be it a high street store, a neighbourhood corner shop or a store near a train station.

Molson Coors products make up some of the planogram, but the majority is devoted to rival brands. For example, if you own a high street store in England, the planogram recommends four facings of Kopparberg to two of its own Rekorderlig, while products from AB-Inbev and Heineken get just as much space as those from Molson Coors.

“It’s a category approach,” said customer marketing director Alpesh Mistry. “We aren’t pushing our brands significantly.

“You can download shelf stripping or a planogram. Retailers want it to be as simple as possible for them and I would say this couldn’t be clearer.”

The 60 Second Shop site is full of videos featuring retailer testimonials, allowing c-store workers to share best practice.

When the site launched in November 2015, Molson Coors gave retailers the chance to win one of 55 store makeovers, which included POS, free beer and cider and KP snacks. Twenty received a chiller and the five top stores gained a digital screen to attract shoppers, while all the stores were helped to overhaul the layout and product mix in their chillers.

Mistry said: “We got the planogram to where it should be and all 55 stores have seen a positive change in sales.”

Molson Coors’ 60 Second Shop is part of a concerted push into a sector it is also supporting with exclusive offers, price-marked packs and digital marketing.

Mistry said: “We just had our 12-week Christmas review and convenience was the winner. It grew by 0.1% while the traditional grocery sector was down.

“The results reiterated that shopper behaviour is changing. Shoppers are going more frequently into impulse stores and buying more when they are there. The beer and cider shopper is the most valuable. They spend more than wine and spirits shoppers based on the frequency with which they shop. On a single transaction spirits and wine shoppers are higher but beer and cider shoppers come in more frequently, according to Nielsen.

“Convenience is a significant growth area. We know that beer and cider hasn’t performed as well as it should in this channel.”

When asked for his tips on how retailers can drive sales of beer and cider, he said: “Get the fridge looking right, clean and cold, offer value for money and solve occasions, and that will solve sales of beer and cider.

“The biggest challenge is retailers’ time. They are really busy people and investing time in doing some of this activity has significant results, but finding time to do it is the challenge. We just have to talk to retailers when they want to be talked to.”

In terms of a need to fulfil shopper occasions, Mistry believes cross-merchandising beer and cider with food is key, as is getting stock levels and range correct around key trading periods such as bank holidays, sporting events and that elusive British heatwave.

He said: “A third of shoppers don’t know what they’re going to have for tea that evening. We merchandised pizza and beer together across 200 stores in Midland Counties Co-op. Retailer sales went up 9% and they sold out of pizzas. We helped shoppers solve what to have by fitting in with their occasion. We can do meal deal solutions with Singha and Thai, Cobra and Indian food, Coors Light and US food. The highest affinity with beer is having a snack and we have done some work with KP Snacks in well over 300 stores, which have seen a 14% uplift.”

The next huge event in the calendar is Euro 2016, where the beer and cider category should see an uplift as England, Wales and Northern Ireland are all involved.

Mistry said: “According to HIM research, 44% of people will watch the Euros. Almost half will watch football with their partner, so cross category solutions need to be really relevant. A beer and cider or a beer and wine offer is important as you need to have an adjacent category that works well for partners.

“Among millennials, 41% will be watching the game with their friends, so you have to make sure multibuy offers are relevant. Some people will watch games on their own or with family, so you have to find solutions for those areas.

“Last time England played a World Cup the convenience channel saw a 48% uplift in beer. Familiar, favoured lager brands did particularly well.”

Mistry added: “When big shops have spikes, convenience shops have spikes – not as much, but they have them. When it comes to bank holidays, grocers win on Friday and Saturday, but convenience wins on Monday. Have your range ready all weekend, but place equal importance on Monday as Friday. 

“Whenever the sun shines it has the biggest uplift on sales. As we come up to spring and summer, having enough cold beer to meet demand when the sun is about to shine has a real impact on sales.”

Retailer testimonials

 60 Second Shop gives customers a different angle to their shop and gives the store owners an opportunity to upsell across multiple categories. The supporting POS and easy-to-shop aisles give the store an element of theatre, engaging the customer and creating an important point of difference over competition. 

Sukh Gill Nisa, Horninglow, Staffordshire

Personally, if I’m a shopper and I go into a shop, I don’t want to be confused. I want to know what I’m going in there for and go about my business, because time is precious to us all.

Atul Sodha Londis, Harefield, london

You can buy beer anywhere. You can walk into any shop and buy beer, but being in a shop that gives you that little bit extra, that’s what catches their eye.” 

Ash Puntambekar, Nisa, Fenstanton, cambridgeshire

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