Spring Alcohol


Spring is a breath of fresh air for retailers and with many calendar events such as Mother’s Day, Easter and two bank holidays, it is a real opportunity for retailers to drive alcohol sales. Asian Trader checks out the latest drinking trends.

Spring alcohol presents a significant opportunity for convenience retailers – especially if they get their range right.

Many last minute shoppers will pick up impulse alcohol purchases, particularly if the sun makes an early appearance, making the spring period a great opportunity to generate incremental revenue.

Retailers can maximise sales by adding refreshing and exciting products to the fixture. New flavours, healthier options, curious ingredients and interesting production methods will all help to gain additional sales.

Thinking about your customer and what they might be planning during these spring and summer months is also key. The weather can be very unpredictable, so if and when there is a hot spell, there will be a big and almost instant demand for products suited to picnics and impromptu BBQs.

And as is the case with spontaneous get-togethers, shoppers will go to their nearest store to find what they want – which means you cannot afford to have any ‘out of stock’ on your alcohol shelves.


The Alcohol Wholesale Registration Scheme (AWRS) is a new scheme implemented by government to regulate the wholesale market and will start effecting retailers from the 1st April. Essentially the scheme means any retailer who buys alcohol from a wholesaler not on the scheme can be penalised.

Many organisations such as the Federation for Wholesale Distribution (FWD) and The Scottish Wholesale Association (SWA) are very keen to get the message to all retailers that this is a very serious issue and that they must be aware of their obligations under the new legislation.

Retailers must check that their alcohol wholesaler is registered under new rules which come into force on April 1. After that date, any retailer who buys from a source which has not been approved by HMRC as a “fit and proper” alcohol trader could face penalties, including fines, seizure of their stock, and the loss of their licence.

The AWRS aims to protect shops which sell beers, wines and spirits from prosecution by helping them ensure they only buy from wholesalers which have paid duty on alcohol products. It will also contribute to recouping the £1.2 billion duty revenue lost every year to criminals who sell duty-evaded stock to unsuspecting retailers.


The SWA has been in contact with its members to ensure they have been inspected and assessed by HMRC and issued with Unique Registration Numbers (URNs).

“It should be noted that the onus is on the retailer to check they are buying from a registered source – from April 1, simply go to hmrc.gov.uk and follow the link to the AWRS look-up service,” said Kate Salmon, Executive Director of SWA.

“Retailers should also ask their wholesaler for their registration number and use the website to confirm that their wholesaler is approved. This will give the retailer peace of mind that their wholesaler is operating within the law.”

She added: “It is not enough to check the number once. Under the new rules, retailers will be responsible for regularly checking that their alcohol is purchased from AWRS-registered sources.”

Manufacturers have been quick to back the scheme.

South America’s largest wine company Concha y Toro immediately announced they have made a strong commitment to the AWRS.

Simon Doyle, General Manager at Concha y Toro UK, said: “We see this as a wholly positive initiative, and are committed to being part of a legitimate supply chain and being fully compliant with the obligations of the Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme; we have made changes to our supplier arrangements as part of a wider global strategy, and we are working closely with our trading partners to reduce the risk of alcohol fraud further along the supply chain.”

He added: “There is a shared responsibility amongst suppliers, traders and retailers in the beers, wines and spirits category to address fraudulent practices across the supply chain. We expect the implementation of AWRS to be to everyone’s benefit.”


Wine is still the biggest alcohol category by value in the UK off trade – worth £5.2bn (WSTA). For the independent retailer who knows his/her customer base, wants to attract new clientele and also drive footfall, becoming a destination to buy wine can be a great strategy to grow their business.

The trend for premium is continuing to deliver growth as consumers are opting to drink less but better. With celebration occasions on the horizon, sparkling sectors such as prosecco are also high on the shopping list for consumers.

Pernod Ricard UK recently launched a new on-pack promotion with an aim to capitalise on key drinking habits revealed in recent shopper behaviour research. The neck tag offer is running across Campo Viejo, Brancott Estate and Jacob’s Creek, and gives consumers the chance to win dinner delivered straight to their door.


Featuring on more than 1.8 million bottles, thousands of £40 vouchers allow the lucky winners to order dinner straight to their door from a food outlet of their choice.

The competition is live now until 31st July across selected classic bottles of Campo Viejo, Brancott Estate and Jacob’s Creek within the grocery and convenience channels.

To enter, shoppers simply need to purchase a bottle with a promotional neck tag on it and enter a unique code via the relevant brand website to find out if they are a lucky winner.

Speaking to Asian Trader, James Middleton, Impulse Channel Director at Pernod Ricard UK, said: “With the warmer weather setting in, consumers get a greater urge to venture outdoors and take in the early summer season with a fresh and chilled, light, drinkable wine such as our Campo Viejo-Viura Tempranillo Blanco which Pernod Ricard UK recently launched exclusively into the UK.”

IBL Wines’ portfolio are all convenience exclusive labels which offer a point of difference from the multiples. The company’s outstanding range is arguably its Makulu range, which last year three Decanter medals. IBL recently launched Makulu Pomula in response to the growth in the flavoured wine sector. The SKU is a sparkling blend of rose with pomegranate and marula flavours.

The company’s Marketing Manager, Helen Dakin, said: “Our 2017 campaign celebrates summer socialising, enjoying great moments wherever, whenever and putting Makulu right in the centre. We are asking people to describe and share their #PerfectMakuluMoment for a chance to win £1000 holiday vouchers to spend however they like.

“We will also be tapping into the Great British love of BBQs which also happens to be an obsession and way of life in South Africa by giving away lots of Makulu Braai BBQ kits.”

She added: “The prize includes Makulu wine, mini BBQ and authentic Braai spices so people can create their own Makulu Moments over the summer with a fun South African twist. The campaign launches to coincide with National BBQ week on the 29th May and extends to a 3 month on pack offer with a parallel social media campaign.”

This spring, Gallo Family Vineyards is adding a brand new taste to its Spritz portfolio with Gallo Family Vineyards Spritz Wild Strawberry, with an ABV of 9%.

The fourth Spritz in the range, Gallo Family Vineyards Spritz Wild Strawberry is a gently fizzed and fruity drink, inspired by the sun-drenched fruits of California, says the brand.

It joins the Raspberry & Lime, Pineapple & Passionfruit and Peach & Nectarine variants and capitalises on the growing trend towards fruit flavoured wines.

Olga Senkina, Marketing Director EMEA, says: “Our Spritz range has always been popular among a younger audience who doesn’t tend to drink wine. In fact, 47% of non-wine drinkers who were sampled last year said it made them feel positively about wine, with 96% commenting positively on the taste.”

Gallo will support the launch of Spritz Wild Strawberry (RRP £5.99) with an eye-catching and integrated marketing campaign targeting millennial consumers. The campaign, which highlights Gallo’s commitment to developing the Spritz portfolio, will include ATL, social media and PR.

Beer & Lager

The start of 2017 has seen the Beer & Lager market respond to the growing consumer trend towards moderate alcohol consumption and the resulting demand for better-tasting low and alcohol free beer.

This has meant the likes of Heineken and Budweiser have launched low-to-zero alcohol variants and are investing heavily to support their new products.

Budweiser was first out of the traps with the transportation of Bud Light from America into the UK this weekend, representing the biggest ever brand launch by AB InBev UK.

Brewed to 3.5% ABV for the UK using the Beechwood Aging process, Bud Light is a premium light lager that says it delivers a “fresh, clean and subtle hop aroma, delicate malt sweetness and a crisp finish”.


The product will be available in 440ml aluminium cans in-store and 500ml SKUs for wholesalers, using the same packaging design and branding as the American version. It will also be offered on draught across the nation’s pubs, bars and restaurants.

Bud Light began rolling-out in-store across grocery and convenience in February and started to appear in on-trade outlets this month.

The launch is being supported by a fully integrated multi-million-pound marketing campaign that celebrates the brand’s light-hearted personality. This includes TV advertising, high-impact out-of-home sites nationwide, significant print and digital spend, plus extensive PR and social media activations.

The launch will also kick-start a significant online and offline promotional campaign, with a major focus on sampling to encourage both initial and repeat purchasing.

Nick Robinson, AB InBev Marketing Director, UK and Ireland, commented: “Our intention is to inject energy and excitement into the UK beer category and we believe Bud Light is perfectly placed to do so by responding to the evolving preferences of today’s consumer. Our research shows that younger LDA drinkers in particular want a beer with a lighter taste, fewer calories and lower ABV – all things that

Bud Light delivers as a standalone, premium light alternative.”

Bud Light comes in a 4 x 440 Multipack (RRP: £4.50); 10 x 440 Multipack (RRP £10); 18 x 440 Multipack (RRP: £15) and 4 x 500ml Multipack (wholesale only – RRP £5.49).

A couple weeks later and Heineken 0.0 was launched – a beer brewed by the global Master Brewer, Willem van Waesberghe.

The new beer is available now and will be supported by a £2.5m marketing investment to address what the manufacturer says are the key category consumption barriers: taste perception and social stigmatism.

Heineken point to recent Nielsen research that show that whilst 50% of people now say they moderate their alcohol consumption – a figure that is growing every year – only 47% of shoppers are satisfied with the existing beer offering in the UK market

Heineken 0.0 is brewed using only natural ingredients, including Heineken’s own A yeast. It contains just 69 calories and is marketed as “defined by its refreshingly fruity notes and soft malty body, which is perfectly balanced with a short after-taste”.

David Lette, Premium Brands Director at Heineken, said: “This is a fantastic tasting beer. Our master brewer is so confident in Heineken 0.0 that he has given it his seal of approval. Drinkers love it too – initial feedback from both consumers and customers has been overwhelmingly positive, with a strong preference shown towards Heineken 0.0 versus other alcohol free beers.”

He added: “Heineken 0.0 will not only drive frequency with current beer drinkers, but also bring new shoppers to the category by attracting health-conscious younger consumers who are drinking less or abstaining altogether, by delivering a great-tasting beer from a brand that they’re proud to be seen with.”

Heineken 0.0 has been launched in two SKUs to meet key occasions – the 4x330ml bottle (RRP £3.25) for ‘planned social occasions’ and a 6x330ml can pack (RRP £4.50) for the ‘casual night in.’

Meanwhile, responding to the rise in popularity of cask and craft beers, Kingstone Press have introduced bag-in-box still ciders, craft bottles and can formats to help create more of a range offering that delivers different taste experiences.

Both of their Friels first press Vintage and Knights Malvern Gold brands are available in bag in box with different seasonal flavours and styles also available.


The cider market has been fizzing with innovation recently and is arguably one of the most busiest categories for new product launches this year.

Leading the way are big brands such as Bulmers and Smirnoff Cider.

Smirnoff recently extended its Smirnoff Cider offering with the introduction of a new ‘Mandarin & Pink Grapefruit’ variant, available to order in the off trade now.

The new launch is intended to build on the successful launch of the Passionfruit & Lime and Raspberry & Pomegranate SKUs in June 2016, which contributed 20% to the total growth in Flavoured Cider (Nielsen).

Setting its sights on opening up the cider category to a variety of new occasions, including festivals and out of home, Diageo is also launching the existing Passionfruit & Lime and Raspberry & Pomegranate variants in a 330ml can multipack.

Katie Hunter, Innovation Commercialisation Manager at Diageo GB says, “Our new Smirnoff Cider flavour aims to drive excitement and growth into the flourishing Fruit Cider category, with a refreshingly citrusy flavoured cider which is which is less sweet and more lightly carbonated than similar products on the market.”

Smirnoff Cider Mandarin & Pink Grapefruit will be available in cases of 8 x 500ml bottles, with an RRP of £2.19 each. The new can multipacks (RRP £10) are available for the existing Passionfruit & Lime and Raspberry & Pomegranate SKUs, each containing 10 x 330ml cans.

To top off a glut of new product development from Heineken is the news that their Bulmers brand is expanding its cider offering with a new artisanal range – the Bulmers Orchard Pioneers.

The range includes two new apple ciders, the result of a collaboration with expert apple growers in Herefordshire; Kier Rogers and Sarah Hawkins.

Sarah’s Red Apple Cider is described as a medium bodied sparkling apple cider, with the subtle bittersweet taste of true Herefordshire apples.

While Kier’s Cloudy Apple Cider is described as a medium bodied sparkling apple cider, with the flavour of fresh apple juice and subtle caramel sweetness.

As well as growing the apple varieties that feature in the ciders, Kier and Sarah have been collaborating on all parts of the project, including recipe development and shaping the design.

“Artisanal apple cider is deemed to be one of the key category drivers over the next four years, and Bulmers Orchard Pioneers has been crafted to help drive this growth by bridging the gap between mainstream apple cider and more premium, artisanal apple cider from a trusted brand,” explains Emma Sherwood-Smith, Cider Director at Heineken.

She added: “As the UK’s number one cider producer, we are committed to driving the cider category’s success for our customers. Bulmers Orchard Pioneers will expand drinkers’ repertoire and act as a stepping stone into premium artisanal ciders, adding value for the retailer and category.”

The two Bulmers Orchard Pioneers variants are available now in single 500ml bottles and 4x330ml can packs. They should be positioned on shelf between mainstream and artisanal apple cider variants, says Sherwood-Smith. The launch will be supported by a £2million campaign.

There is also innovative news in the cider category from a marketing perspective, from Westons Caple Rd Cider, the UK’s first craft cider in a can, forming a partnership to become the Official Cider of Backyard Cinema for the next two years.

One of London’s fastest growing attractions, Backyard Cinema is known for transforming unique spaces into captivating cinematic experiences. From the Zombie Apocalypse that took place in a top secret location to Romeo + Juliet at St Mary’s Church with a live choir and magical Winter Night Garden at the new permanent venue, Mercato Metropolitano, Backyard Cinema is aiming to change the face of cinema.

Tessa Holden, Caple Rd Brand Manager, said: “We are delighted to have formed a partnership with Backyard Cinema. Backyard Cinema’s audience of young, urban consumers who are eager to try new and authentic experiences and brands, is the perfect audience for Caple Rd. We are very much looking forward to working with them in 2017 and beyond.”

Spirits & Liqueur

2017 is shaping up to be a busy year for the Loch Lomond Group as they continue the roll out PMP’s across their Glen’s and High Commissioner brands.

The manufacturer has also just unveiled a new ‘Win a £500 TV’ competition on High Commissioner, offering consumers the chance to win a 50-inch TV.

Each 70cl regular and price marked pack (PMP) bottles of High Commissioner blended scotch whisky on sale across the UK, mainly in independent stores, will have a “Win a 50” TV” neck collar promotion. Running until the end of September, there are a number of draws taken from entries to the brand’s website.

The Group is also about to announce some news on Glen’s which will happen over the summer across the UK. Scott Dickson, Marketing Manager at Loch Lomond Group, told Asian Trader that they are continuing to increase the distribution of their Loch Lomond Original Single Malt in the independent channel and other Loch Lomond and Glen Scotia single malts expressions as the brands grow across the whole of the UK.

Arguably the most eye-catching launch of the year so far in spirits comes from Irish whiskey brand, Jameson, which just unveiled a new premium, on-the-go offering with the launch of its ready to drink (RTD) cans.

Exclusively available to the UK, Jameson is tapping into the growing RTD can market, worth over £95m (Nielsen), with two flavours: Classic Cola and Ginger & Lime.

This brand new range of Jameson drinks sit within the refreshed family and have been launched to recruit younger consumers into the Irish whiskey category.  Creating a more convenient solution for the

on-the-go lifestyle of young males aged 25-34, Jameson RTD cans are aimed at driving incremental spirits sales of Jameson Original.

Further news from Pernod Ricard UK comes from vodka brand Absolut, which is continuing to drive category growth with the launch of its latest innovation, Absolut Lime (RRP: £18.75).

With over 82% (CGA) of consumers regularly drinking citrus cocktails, Absolut has tapped into this popular trend to reveal its new recipe for lime flavoured vodka, made with natural ingredients. With lime drinks showing strong traction with drinkers, Absolut Lime has been developed in response to evolving consumer demand for a fresh tasting, flavoured vodka.

Meanwhile, in the liqueur sector, leading brand Baileys has introduced a new addition to its portfolio – Baileys Iced Coffee.

Available in 200ml cans, the two new ready-to-drink variants – Latte and Mocha are a fusion of Arabica and Robusta iced coffee with real milk, fine spirit and Baileys Irish Cream.

The Iced Coffee category has grown by 44% in the last two years (Nielsen), with nearly half of all Iced Coffee products purchased in GB being purchased in the convenience channel (IRI). As the category continues to grow with projected double digit growth by 2020, new Baileys Iced Coffee has been designed to help retailers take advantage of this growing sales opportunity.

Sam Salameh, Baileys Marketing Manager, Europe says: “The popularity of coffee continues to grow, with over 18 billion cups consumed in GB each year. As we continue to see how successfully Baileys works alongside coffee, and in serves such as the popular Flat White Martini, we see the launch of the new Iced Coffee variants as a natural progression for the brand. The product will allow consumers to enjoy a mini moment of indulgence during casual get togethers with friends, both in and out of home, whilst offering a significant profit opportunity for retailers.”

Baileys Iced Coffee is also set to become the lead sponsor of hit TV show Made in Chelsea for the next three series, airing now. This new media sponsorship is part of a wider reaching media campaign for the brand, including digital, cinema and online.

The 200ml cans for both the Latte and Mocha variant will have an ABV of 4%, an RRP of £1.90 and will be sold in cases of twelve.


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