Gifting: Get ready for Christmas 2019

Retailers are gearing up for the crucial Christmas trading period after enduring a tough year blighted by poor weather, Brexit fears and plummeting consumer confidence. Like-for-like sales are down across most BWS categories in 2019 and Christmas represents the last bastion of hope for retailers aiming to record a strong profit.

It is far and away the most wonderful time of the year for the drinks trade and gifting naturally plays a crucial role in driving sales. “Gift packs drive retail sales at key occasions throughout the year, particularly Christmas,” says Martamaria Carrillo, co-founder of Colombian rum brand La Hechicera. “As consumers are on the go more now than ever, gift packs offer the opportunity for one-stop shopping. Consumers are more likely to purchase a spirit that is offering added value, such as a glass, and is packaged in a premium gift box, than an undressed bottled off the shelf.

“The holiday season accounts for a considerable percentage of yearly sales, so this is a great opportunity for retailers to offer added-value gift packs to help drive sales.

“Merchandising is key around the holiday season. Consumers are often pressed for time and shopping at multiple retailers to get the items on their list. It’s important to have creative and clear packaging that tells the brand story to the consumer while highlighting its quality cues.

“Some of the things consumers are looking for when choosing a gift pack are added value from premium brands, brands that can stand behind their story—ones that are authentic— and the opportunity to gift something new with friends and family.

“Our impactful, premium gift pack is a Gold Fashioned kit, a twist on an Old Fashioned. It has a bottle of La Hechicera and a decorative tumbler glass as well as 30 raw sugarcane cubes, known as panela. We are the best-awarded rum in Colombia and that is communicated on our gift pack.”

MAXIMISING OPPORTUNITIES

Pernod Ricard reports that 44% of UK adults bought gin as a gift throughout 2018 and it is offering Plymouth gin in a new gift box ahead of the festive period. “This year we think gifting will be big for gin and we are tapping into this with a gift pack for Plymouth gin,” says commercial director Chris Ellis. “Linked to this is our prediction that it will be another big Christmas for gin.

“We do see a point on the horizon where the gin category might start to top out, but for this Christmas we would advise retailers to maximise the opportunity gin holds. We don’t see it as a never-ending train of the continuous growth we are seeing at the moment. But this will be the third big Christmas for gin and retailers should make the most of it.”

The spirits category typically sees the most activity when it comes to launching innovative gift packs. Crystal Head vodka, founded by Canadian actor Dan Aykroyd, has unveiled a new gift pack, launching in Selfridges and on Amazon this month. It features the distinctive skull bottle alongside four 5cl Crystal Head vodka skull shot glasses. “The introduction of the new creative on the pack is the first packaging refresh in some years and we feel it brings to life our two vodkas in a modern, eye- catching way,” says European market manager Chris Amey.

Jack Daniel’s is gearing up to release its 2019 advent calendar exclusively in Asda. It includes mini variants from across the portfolio of fine sipping whiskeys, which includes Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, Tennessee Honey, Tennessee Fire, Gentleman Jack, Tennessee Rye and Single Barrel. Fans can also look forward to finding jiggers and shot glasses behind some doors.

MEMORABLE MOMENTS

Drinks by the Dram is launching a number of advent calendars, spanning categories including gin, whisky and rum, featuring some of the world’s best brands and covering a range of price points from £50 upwards. “The whole team have been working hard over the past 12 months to deliver a new stunning range of advent calendars to suit all segments of the spirits consumer,” says brand manager Jen Meredith. “We are now in our eighth year and our aim remains as it did in 2012, to make the countdown to Christmas as memorable and engaging for consumers as we can, while aiding spirits discovery. This year’s range is our most extensive yet to ensure we’ve created a line-up to delight spirit fans of all categories.” Many of the gift packs are targeted at the

multiple grocers and department stores, but independent retailers also need to make the most of creative gifting if they want to compete with supermarkets at Christmas.

It could be as simple as filling a wooden box with a bottle of wine, a corkscrew, glasses, tasting notes and some artisan cheese, but you can become a lot more creative. The key is to ensure you are not competing directly against supermarkets on price.

The joy of going to an independent merchant instead of the supermarket is about buying a bottle that suits the person you are buying a gift for, and it makes the whole thing more personal, while it also encourages the shopper to buy premium drinks.

PACKAGING OPPORTUNITIES

Displays do not take up too much room in store, and offering gift packaging is a no- brainer at this time of year. You can also turn to specialist firms to help you out.

Lanchester Wines has a subsidiary dedicated solely to creating luxury food and alcohol gifts for retailers across the UK, and it caters to indies. “We start planning for Christmas years in advance to ensure our new ranges are on trend and in demand,” says sales director Mark Roberts, “using the highest quality products from within our wholly- owned supply chain covering sourcing, design, packaging and supply – all from our HQ near the village of Lanchester, County Durham, which is powered by our three on-site wind turbines.

“We generate the clean, green, renewable energy we use in our warehouses and hand- packing areas. Depending on your business, we can deliver products direct to your warehouse or offer a drop-shipping service.”

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