First Drinks plans to change way whisky is sold

27 November, 2009

First Drinks has spent three years studying how people buy whisky and the company now plans to transform the way the drink is sold in the multiple, wholesale and convenience channels in the UK.

John Hyman, sales director for First Drinks, said: “We have been investing a lot of time and money in the whisky category which our research has shown, needs demystifying, particularly in the malt category to make the sector more accessible to consumers.

“After three years of research, we have now begun to discuss with retailers the benefits of re-merchandising the whisky fixture, looking at flavour and taste profiles to aid the shopper when in the whisky aisle. Our studies have revealed the importance of shopper interaction via correct positioning and signposting at fixture hotspots, along with organising the range by flavour profile and improving brand visibility and standout on shelf.

“In initial trials, where we worked with retailers on developing the whisky aisle, we witnessed up to an impressive 20% sales uplift, outperforming the UK malt category.”

Retailers working with First Drinks on its malt strategy, now put educational strips on shelves with additional panels on the side of the fixture.  Shelves have been split into four flavour profiles ranging from light and floral to peaty and smoky.

As part of the First Drinks whisky category plan, the company is encouraging retailers to use reassuring methods such as displaying ‘awards won’ and ‘as recommended by’ shelf barkers. In addition, stores are being encouraged to stock smaller size variants such as 35cl bottles to offer consumers premium variants at an affordable price point.

Key findings:

There is confusion in the malt sector – education needs to focus around taste and flavour

43% of malt is given as a gift

One third of malt shoppers leave the fixture having not purchased a bottle

The overwhelming majority of shoppers would like to see more information about taste and flavour at the fixture

Gifting is an increasingly important reason to purchase, with birthdays now more popular than Christmas as a gifting occasion

Blended shoppers are more familiar with the fixture, therefore, they tend to know what they want and purchase quickly – decision making is limited

Price promotions are key influencers when purchasing blended whisky