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Warmer weather means more gatherings, barbecues and garden parties. BetterRetailing finds out how you can make the most of it

stat-RE-featurePeople spending their evenings in their own homes is a massive opportunity for convenience stores – 37% of shoppers will trade up if there is a specific mission catered for in store.

In particular, it’s crucial to ensure your alcohol offer reflects consumers’ changing tastes at this time of year.

David Mallory, impulse & on-trade channel director for E&J Gallo, says alfresco drinking and entertaining increases sharply during summer months, so customers having a night in is big business.

“The key is to over-face your chiller with white and rosé wines as you can never be sure when a warm evening will send shoppers into your store,” he adds.

When it comes to spending time with friends, premium products top the list. Paul Isherwood, head of off-trade category development for Diageo, says 43% of consumers say they would pay more for high-quality and premium spirits. “With consumer confidence at a nine-year high, the market is premiumising and shoppers now spend more per trip,” he explains.

This summer there is a raft of sporting events to get behind, so themed night in displays can be created to inspire shoppers.

launches-and-promos-summerLisa Rice, trade marketing co-ordinator at Haribo, says: “Gatherings are arranged to watch or celebrate key summer events, such as the Olympics and the Euros. We also see more family get-togethers as children break up from school for the summer.”

The quality of the fixture has a lot of influence over summer nights in shoppers, who are usually coming into your store without specific products in mind. Adrian Troy head of marketing for AG Barr, says: “As 75% of purchase decisions are made at the fixture, offers and promotions will increase the basket spend on summer nights in.”

Night in shoppers are also looking for more than just crisps and drinks. Chilled and fresh food allows hosts to offer something a little different and more filling to their friends.  Kim Burgess, head of markets at Addo Food Group, says: “The chilled savoury pastry snacking and sharing market has doubled over the past five years to £65m and continues with strong year-on-year growth at 16%.”

The right products at the right time

Customers generally prefer sweeter flavours in the summer and this could not be more true than in wine. “It’s really important for convenience retailers to offer a range of products that appeal to everyone, but at this time of year it’s all about white rosés and fruity wines,” says Mallory.

Adding larger formats of soft drinks to a night in fixture will help shoppers grab what they need quickly. Nigel Paine, commercial director at Britvic, says: “Carbonated and adult products such as J2O are ideal soft drinks when having friends over. Larger sharing formats, such as 1.5l or 2l bottles of brands like 7Up and Pepsi Max are often brought on their own as an alternative to alcohol.

Premium spirits, such as Johnnie Walker, Havana Club and Captain Morgan, continue to be strong sellers, so higher-priced products should be considered when selecting your range. Isherwood says: “Premium spirits are selling well in the off-trade and showing an increase of 10% in value sales year on year.”

Using well-known brands is an important way to promise your customers that they are getting quality products. Burgess says retailers should focus on branded products, which make up 90% of the chilled pastry category in convenience. She says: “The push on branded products will separate convenience stores from the supermarkets, who focus on own brand.”

Summer is also an essential time for ice cream. If you have space, you should consider bringing your freezer to the front of the store to make your range unmissable.

Noel Clarke, executive director for ice cream at Unilever, says: “The warmer weather undoubtedly presents retailers with the opportunity to engage customers with ice cream and increase their impulse purchases.”

Shoppers need to have snacks available to share in their summer nights in. How are brands helping?

Kellogg's-column2“It would be nice to think big nights in only happened in winter, but in reality, the infamous British weather is adept at turning most of the summer into one long huddle around the telly.

“As a result, it’s important to ensure that when shoppers want an evening of Game of Thrones or Netflix, or they’re having a gathering for the Euros or Olympics, sharing snacks are available.

“This year, as European football takes over the sporting agenda, Pringles is offering consumers the chance to win a football-themed bowl when they buy two cans. Your shoppers can type in the codes online to get their hands on them. The promotion is running across our top-selling core range of Original, Salt & Vinegar, Sour Cream & Onion and Texas BBQ.

Kellogg's-column1“Later this summer, Pringles is bringing back its Karaoke
promotion. It uses the same promotional mechanic as the football promotion and it will run across the same range. Shoppers can get a free kit that turns the Pringles cans into a karaoke microphone. It’s perfect for kids’ parties and family gatherings, or picnics and barbecues.

“As an official sponsor of Team GB at the Rio 2016 Olympics, we’re using our ambassadors Louis Smith, Rebecca Adlington and Sir Steve Redgrave to drive home the message that a bowl of Kellogg’s cereal gives you a great start to the day. You should make sure you’ve got a champion display of Olympic-themed cereal for the duration of the Games.”

Merchandising

Once you have selected your products to stock, merchandising them in a way that encourages your shoppers to pick items up together is the next important step.

Using your EPoS data to see the items shoppers buy together will allow you to create relevant deals for your customers.

The best way to increase night in sales is to create a dedicated fixture which includes drinks and snacks.

Britvic’s Nigel Paine, says: “Night in displays can help drive sales and should be sited in visible and high-footfall areas. Today’s shoppers look for a combination of price and convenience when deciding what to purchase.”

E&J Gallo’s Mallory adds: “Retailers should cross-merchandise wine with barbecue and picnic food, as well as ready meals, to catch the eye of the consumer and encourage bigger spend.”

By recommending quality wine to your customers, you will encourage them to come back again as wine can be an incredibly difficult category to shop.

Retailers that don’t have space to create a night in fixture can still give their sales a boost by using PoS to highlight relevant products. Making fixtures as easy as possible to shop as possible can help consumers get what they need quickly.

Meri Parvento-Wicks, innovation commercialisation manager for Diageo, says: “Ensure customers can easily find their items. Blocking vertically by category first, then brand and finally size will help do this. Ideally shoppers would like to see all bottle sizes by brand together.”

Try something new

Summer is a great time to try something new in store and any retailers not yet on social media should strongly consider it. By posting your offers and deals and joining the conversations happening in your area, you can become a hub for your local community and tap into the events and gatherings that they have.

“I’m looking at introducing some new meal deals in my store in the next couple of weeks for summer. We’re going to have week day ones and weekend deals that we’ll rotate around.

“The week day deals include meals like pizza, lasagne and fish and chips, and for the weekend ones we’ll look at pairing the deals with a bottle of wine.

“We’ve got fresh meat in store now and the range we can offer is absolutely beautiful.

“At the moment we’re promoting Euro 2016 and Glastonbury with dedicated fixtures. I’m really looking forward to summer.”

Janette Tucker
Lifestyle Express, Winscombe, Somerset

Mallory says: “Retailers should take advantage of social media and get involved with the local community as much as they can. Competitions and giveaways work well to help build an initial following.”

Pre-mix alcohol is another important area for convenience, especially in summer, when shoppers want refreshing, chilled drinks to consume quickly. Nicola Matthews, innovation manager at Diageo says since the company launched its plan to drive chilled and frozen space in convenience, it has placed 1,758 pre-mix fridges and 892 pouches into convenience stores. 

When choosing what to do in store, the best way to find out is to build relationships with your customers. AG Barr’s Adrian Troy says: “Retailers should find out what their customers want and stock the top-performing brands in each category.”

Visit our month of summer feature for more advice, tips and products to boost your sales this summer!