Spirit specialists

Lindsay Sharman speaks to Diageo’s wholesale specialists about on and off-trade trends.

BW: How has Diageo worked with wholesalers to help grow their sales?

RD: We’re starting a spirits revolution to make sure consumers are able to experience the perfect serve whether in a pub or at home. That is the consumer opportunity we’re training our sales team to pass on to consumers – whether that’s through bar staff or depot staff.

What have been your main achievements in the past 12 months? 

ND: From a Diageo perspective; our brands are leading the market – they are in growth despite a slight decline in the category. We continue to update our field sales team so we get larger coverage of small stores. There’s an extra 30 field sales people to call on bars, cash & carries, and convenience stores. From a consumer perspective, we’ve been driving sales with price-marked packs (PMPs). 70% of growth in Smirnoff has come from PMPs. 

What major challenges have you faced recently?

RD: One of the challenges the company faces is making sure the right message for the consumer gets to them in the right place. The traditional route to market has changed, for example just dealing with retailers through cash & carry doesn’t exist anymore. Wholesalers now also focus on on-trade. There’s new methods like click and collect. So the message has to be consistent across all of those formats. 

How do you plan to develop Diageo’s service wholesalers in the next six months?

ND: Our strategy is quite simple. It’s about helping wholesalers and retailers to understand consumer trends quickly and to act on them, which makes it easier for consumers to shop. Retailers are going into depot looking for inspiration and ideas. 

What opportunities are there for wholesalers?

RD: To stay agile to trends and to help customers to access them. For example ready to serve in off-trade is getting very interesting and I don’t believe a lot of wholesalers understand how it’s changing. Frozen pouches have sold half a million cases in the last six months. Smirnoff frozen pouches were only brought to market three months ago and have already sold ¼ million packs. Demand is huge and wholesalers need to be agile to those trends.

What are the most influential trends in the market you operate in?

RD: We are still seeing premiumisation in all spirits categories in on and off trade. People are still willing to spend money on a better bottle or a more complicated serve. Premium vodka is gaining a significantly larger share, for example people are willing to spend £30 on a bottle of premium vodka. In on-trade, food trends are being reflected in the drinks market.

What advice do you have for wholesalers looking to grow sales or improve business management?

ND: Know your shopper and end consumer – and be agile and try new things, innovation dominates every category. Be bolder and have regular range reviews. Retailers are looking to wholesalers to educate them so accept that retailers are shoppers as well and engage with them.

Avatar photo
Lindsay Sharman is a former editor of Retail Newsagent, news editor of Retail Express and account manager in public relations for leading food and drink brands. Lindsay loves anything to do with the arts, including mid-century antiques, and cycles everywhere, even in winter


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.