As couples swap a night out for a cosy night in, retailers have a massive opportunity to drive spend, writes Nikki Allen.
Why stock premium products?
When it comes to spending a night in with a loved one, shoppers are willing to spend more on quality food and drink, which is great news for retailers.
“Evening snacking is a high-value opportunity for retailers – out of all snacking occasions, it’s time together with partners that consumers are willing to pay the most for,” says Rebecca Worthington, Pringles senior brand manager.
This is really evident in the wine category, where the premium sector is seeing the strongest growth.
Growth in the convenience channel is now driven by wine priced above £7, which is up 7%, compared to under £7, which is declining by 1%.
Neil McGuigan, Australian Vintage chief executive officer, says: “This year we launched a McGuigan Founders range, which has an RRP of £11.
“Its success demonstrates there is an appetite among shoppers to trade up.”
With the rise in Netflix and on demand TV, couples are making evenings on the sofa more of a special time.
David Mallory, impulse channel director at E&J Gallo Winery, says: “This means consumers are more likely to enjoy premium products at home, especially to impress a loved one. They are also more educated than ever, and looking for premium products from well-known brands.”
What to include in your range
The big night in is no longer just about standard beer and crisps – good quality products in unusual flavours are growing in popularity for shoppers looking for a special evening in.
Alex Albone, Pipers Crisps founder, says retailers need to stock premium flavours to suit the changing tastes and dietary needs of consumers.
“Mediterranean herb flavours are becoming increasingly popular. Think gin and tonic cocktails, such as rosemary cucumber and cranberry thyme, and stock a snack flavour that is a good match, like Pipers Atlas Mountains Wild Thyme & Rosemary crisps.”
Pairing alcohol with food is a great way boost sales further. Toby Lancaster, Heineken category & shopper marketing director, says: “Forty-three per cent of large, single bottles are purchased to accompany a meal, so stocking these alongside chilled meals can help drive spend.”
Sharing a tub of ice cream is popular in colder weather. Nick Widdowson, Unilever Partners for Growth merchandising & creative controller, says ice cream consumed for special occasions has soared in recent years. With that in mind, you should rotate your freezer stock to include more take-home packs and fewer singles.
And when it comes to alcohol, wine is synonymous with a night in. “Stocking premium wines is a must. Well-known brands should feature heavily as consumers are much more likely to impulse buy a wine they can trust for a special night with a partner,” says Mallory.
But don’t forget about the 21% of adults who now choose not to drink alcohol, says Amy Burgess, trade communications manager at CCEP. “Soft drinks provide a major opportunity for independent retailers to increase sales for those enjoying nights at home.
“Products like Appletiser and Schweppes Sparkling Juices are popular whether on their own, or as an ingredient for cocktail making,” she says.
Creating premium "night in" displays
If you want to make the most of nights in, then an eye-catching display is vital.
A great display should group together all the items that couples are looking for, such as premium snacks, wine, soft drinks, chocolate – and even candles.
“Couples often plan date nights at home at the last minute, and this can make convenience stores a go-to stop for shoppers making impulse buys for the evening,”
Another way to cross-promote these products is a couples evening meal deal. “This could include a soft drink such as a 750ml bottle of Appletiser, offered alongside starters, mains and dessert for a discounted set price,” she adds.
Another classic couples’ night in display is ‘dinner and a movie’, both of which are likely to include wine, says Ben Smith, UK head of communications at Casillero del Diablo brand owner Concha y Toro.
The easier you make it for your shoppers to find what they need, the more likely they are to buy. “Stock ice coolers with white wine, perfect for those wanting a last-minute couples’ night,” adds Mallory.
“Create clear signs for customers to help draw attention to the display, making it clear you are offering couples night in products.”
Do it: Create a display with wine, soft drinks and chocolates to appeal to couples having a night in.
“Nights in are really important to our business as they are fairly universal across different types of shoppers.
“We decided to partner with the online food delivery company Deliveroo to offer shoppers around 90 lines of drinks and snacks. More recently, we partnered with UberEats.
“We have a dedicated display area for nights in, with sharing packs of snacks and alcohol, and we change the alcohol on promotion every three weeks.
“I’ve noticed that even though shoppers are starting to go out a bit more as they feel like they have more to spend, many people are still choosing to drink at home.”
owner of seven Spar stores