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Aussies now prefer mulling over wine and adopting new booze brands

By RJ Whitehead , 02-Jan-2014

Australia is now a nation of booze browsers as consumers there become less tied to the brands they know well and are starting to look wider for new names and tastes. 

In the year to September 2013, 70% of Australians over the age of 18 who have purchased liquor in an average four week period “tend to stick to the brands I know”, a decrease from 72% in the year to September 2009.

At the same time, the proportion of shoppers who say they enjoy “having a good look around liquor stores” has increased, with over half now enjoying a browse, a rise of 5% over the last five years. Also a greater number of liquor buyers now say “I will drive out of my way to purchase alcohol that I want” (22%, up from 18% in 2009).

These trends are revealed in a new study by Roy Morgan Research, and reflect how bottle shop owners should be cottoning on to changes in consumer alcohol trends over the last half-decade through introducing special deals and developing better environments for shoppers. 

Special focus on special offers

In the liquor retail industry, it is clear that some people are drawn to specials for reasons other than just price,” explained Roy Morgan’s Geoffrey Smith. 

Many alcohol shoppers enjoy browsing, checking out new and different brands and talking to knowledgeable staff. Sourcing discounts, whether on individual bottles or bulk purchases, is just another pleasurable part of the experience.”

But this is more than just a growing number of browsers. Although consumers who take the time to examine what is available might be more inclined to source special offers, they are also less thrifty than those who just want to get in and get out with their bottles. 

In an average seven day period, alcohol buyers who enjoy browsing for booze spend an average of around A$65 (US$57.90), equating to over A$9 (US$8) a week more than those who don’t.

Happy browsers are also 16% more likely than non-browsers to make three or more liquor store visits per month, and are nearly three-quarters more likely to visit three or more different stores over that period.

When it comes to price attitudes, they are: 38% more likely to buy brands on special; 20% more likely to shop where there are good specials; but—importantly—are 25% less likely to try to spend as little as possible.

Helping the environment

The research also shows how liquor chains have tailored their offerings to appeal to booze browsers, across all the price points they target. 

Over the past five years Australian liquor shoppers have increased their focus on low prices and a large range, and are changing where they buy their liquor as a result. The popularity of Dan Murphy’s has grown steadily, while Liquorland and Licensed Supermarket outlets have declined,” added Smith.

Browsers are three times as likely as non-browsers to say it’s important that a liquor store is “a fun and entertaining place to shop”, 78% more likely to want a good range and/or staff with good product knowledge, and 73% more likely to place importance on bulk purchasing options.

Almost two-thirds of happy browsers say Dan Murphy’s is one of the best liquor stores, but a higher proportion of people who like Vintage Cellars or 1st Choice enjoy browsing.

However it’s the medley of booze in Costco’s warehouses that appeals most particularly to browsers: the combination of ‘specials’—but without being necessarily cheap—and new brands means almost three in four people who put Costco as a preferred store also enjoy having a good look around.”