Holiday Season Sales Data Offers Important Insights

As we enter the holiday selling season in beverage alcohol (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s in quick succession), brands are gearing up for large, expensive promotional programs. How can marketers and brand managers ensure the execution of these programs before the short season is over? I recently spoke to Marybeth Came, Client Services Director for the Beverage Information & Insights Group, about the most effective ways to track and measure results.

Why is gathering data during the fourth quarter important to brands?

The National Retail Federation expects holiday sales to be up 4% in 2016 versus last year, and in general beverage alcohol sales are much higher in the fourth quarter than during the rest of the year. Given that distilled spirits sales were up 2.5% in 2015, I would expect the industry to experience a growth rate on trend with the rest of the retailing sector.

Our auditors are in the field at the beginning of December, which is a very important time for beverage alcohol sales. Most shoppers have been spreading out their holiday purchases into November and even earlier, but spirits are often an impulse buy that happen later in the year. So it’s important to note that when we’re collecting data on pricing, promoted pricing, holiday merchandising, number of facings, shelf stocking level, number of displays and price on display, it’s during the peak shopping time.

What off-premise challenges are brands facing during this time of the year?

As categories diversify, shelf space is harder and harder to come by. Millennials are searching for authentic products that tend to be craft beers and spirits, which means mainstream brands need to protect their territory or risk losing space to craft brands.

The other challenge is standing out. There’s so much creativity around the holidays with special bottles and packaging, so brands need to ensure that their promotions are effective and they’re standing out against the competition as they fight for consumers’ attention.

When can brands expect to receive data from a December audit?

Our preliminary data is available to clients before the end of December, as are the results from our recent bartender survey. Since trends often start on-premise, the bartender survey shows what mixologists on the front line are seeing and what customers are requesting. And for brands with special holiday packaging, we offer a gift pack tracking service that’s available for purchase now.



QandA imageMarybeth Came is the Director of Client Services for the Beverage Information & Insights Group. She can be reached or 203-855-8499 x2216.

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