Navigating tough times in the drinks industry – opinion
As we find ourselves in one of the most challenging economic environments in recent history, there will be many trying to plan what the impact will be.
In a world where the most common words in the media are ‘U-turn’ and ‘unprecedented’, it is no surprise that 'uncertainty' is inevitable.
We know from the 2008/09 financial crisis that consumers will be choosing fewer occasions in hospitality, and opting to save at home. Published numbers already show fewer visits a month in the on-trade, migration into premium in the off-trade, followed by a lowering of basket spend.
But which horse do we back? Which categories can we expect to flourish and which products do we really think will pass the economic test?
Leaning on “we had a recession before”, doesn’t cut it as we have not had a pandemic, war and then recession in such quick succession since World War I - and Nielsen data doesn’t go back that far!
The one theme that is true of every war, pandemic and economic crisis is that we are all human beings and want to forget that we are in a war, pandemic or economic crisis. In practice, that means that escapism and experience is more important than ever. The drinks category has time and time again been the facilitator of some great social experiences.
In today’s language, parties at home will continue, if not increase as we are not restricted to a social bubble any longer. And those home bars that were so popular in lockdown will surely be dusted down. This means that the premium drinks category will still see support as consumers buy to impress.
Having a strategy ready to drive accessibility to brands will be important. Looking at how we can provide better entry points whilst not sacrificing values and quality will be imperative.
So, while the challenges ahead are vast, we must not forget brand morals. Focus in on making the consumer experience the best it can be. While wallets will see some tightening, humans will be humans, and will demand a good experience regardless of cost. From e-commerce to bricks and mortar, providing a product that focuses in on experience will be the difference between the winners and losers over the next 12 months.
Every crisis we face as a nation gives birth to new experiences, new products and new cultures. This will certainly happen this time around and with the vast number of entrepreneurial minds we have in the UK, I have no doubt something exciting is brewing.