Make the most of your credentials

21 September, 2007

High street off-licences will be both pleased and dismayed by the latest findings from our high street tracking programme, which interviewed consumers

in 20 locations around the UK.

It found that consumers like shopping on the high street

and believe there is a good range of shops . But the most frequent shop types visited on the high street are clothes stores (44 per cent), pharmac ies (35 per cent) and stationery stores (26 per cent)

- with only 1 per cent of high street consumers visiting an off-licence.

What can be done to increase off-

licence penetration? Some clues were offered by consumers , with

environmental issues significantly prominent.

Thirty per cent say fair trade products increase

the

likelihood of them buying items from a high street shop, followed by explicit intentions on the part of the retailer to reduce

carbon emissions. Local sourcing, reducing packaging waste and using recycled carrier bags are all key issues for today's high street consumer.

Should off-licences be doing more to piggy-back on

these green campaigns? Are the supermarkets stealing a march over smaller format stores when it comes to the environment? Are supermarkets actually any greener than small format stores , or have the major multiples played the "perception versus reality" card well?

Could leaflets be used to communicate green credentials? In all the channels we work across, consumers actually quite like receiving leaflets. Research has shown that those consumers who receive leaflets visit the store in question more frequently, spend more per trip and have greater awareness of the

range offered. Promotion penetration is higher too.

Leaflets should be used to communicate as many reasons as possible for using an off-licence rather than a supermarket and the environment appears to be a good starting point.

We are also seeing a return to

specialists

such as butchers, bakers, greeng rocers and local pharmacies. Convenience stores are starting to reattract customers lost to supermarkets. One of the driving factors is that local retailers are playing on their

local-ness

and ­position within the community. Off-licences are in a great position to follow suit. One local retailer pays for a nutrional therapist to visit their store once a week offering free advice to customers, recognising the importance of health and well-being. Is there any reason

off-licences couldn't introduce something similar , either in terms of responsible drinking

or matching wine with food?

But of concern to off-licences and all high street retailers is the view held by a growing band of consumers that the services and facilities are not up to scratch. Only 14 per cent think the toilets

in high streets are "above average" (ie acceptable).

Thirty-six per cent believe crime is a problem . This could obviously deter consumers from shopping in high streets, pushing them back to the relative "security" of out-of-town shopping malls or supermarkets.

Can retailers do more to collaborate

to protect consumers while shopping? We understand actual crime rates are in decline , but consumers believe crime to be getting worse.

We have seen some positive moves in recent weeks. "We sell ice" window vinyls are now very visible across the door of my local off-licence , clearly communicating something I suspect most customers did not know previously.

I am seeing the range being squeezed so small in my local supermarket c-store that it appears they sell only about

five different red wines , but with

six to eight facings of each

- thereby helping local off-licences to look more "specialist".

And while England's performances in the Rugby World Cup have been dire, remember how many Aussies, Kiwis and South Africans live over here

and what a great opportunity this is to promote drinks from these countries at a time when all the attention is on them.

Tom Fender is director of Him! - a retail consultancy working with 120 blue-chip organisations in the UK and abroad using moment-of-truth consumer insight to grow sales profitably. Him! works across convenience, forecourts, off-licences, pubs

and bars, foodservice, wholesaling, coffee chains and pharmacy , having interviewed 15 million

customers face to face.




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