Nielsen insight: the lowdown on Scotch whisky

While Scotch whisky is not necessarily featuring at the top of many conversations in the off-trade, this summer it has experienced a comeback. The growing popularity of both blends and malts over the three months of summer 2019 comes hot on the heels of two key trends: premiumisation in the off-trade and the mature, affluent shopper seeking well-known brands which are delivering high quality.

The opportunity to maintain the momentum of Scotch growth is not restricted only to the off-trade – recent data from our CGA partners shows that consumers are now spending and consuming more Scotch in on-trade premises as well. 

The shopper visiting your store is potentially the same shopper who visits the on-trade. If you are unsure what type of brands might be best suited to your consumers, you could do worse than look to the on-trade back bar for inspiration. 

The dynamic between the 70cl and 1-litre format has been key to success over the summer, with both performing well despite a reduction in promotional hotspots in stores. 

Price reductions on the 1-litre format encouraged shoppers to trade up to the larger size. Not only has this proved attractive to current Scotch shoppers, who have been adding more whisky to their alcohol cupboards, but it has encouraged occasional Scotch shoppers to purchase.

Continuing the positive performance of both formats will be key moving into Christmas to bolster momentum on premiumisation, and to keep the appeal to the less frequent shoppers who bought Scotch throughout the summer. 

There is an opportunity for these shoppers to move into more regular Scotch purchases. For this to happen, choice across formats will be key.

When it comes to spending money on Scotch, mature shoppers are leading the charge. They accounted for 70% of all supermarket spend over the summer but a whopping 90% of Scotch spend over the same period. 

They are fans of Scotch and don’t hold back when it comes to spending.

So how can you make sure you are not diluting this opportunity in the months to come? This shopper group is seeking products that can demonstrate quality and provenance, rather than those which may hold the lowest price. 

Offering a core range of quality Scotch products will help engage with this shopper group and drive immediate growth in sales. 

By understanding the resurgence of darker spirits, such as Scotch, and the key macro trends and shopper groups they are playing into, you can position yourself more effectively to capitalise on the potentially untouched pockets of off-trade growth and be a leader in the changing times from light to dark.

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