January is a notoriously slow month for alcohol sales and 2021 is going to be especially tough for retailers in light of COVID-19. Spirits marketing will be more important than ever as producers and retailers try to mitigate losses. Implementing targeted marketing efforts early on can help businesses get ahead of the curve and hopefully drive demand and have your depletion reports looking better than ever. Keep reading for tips that will help you survive the January slump.
While projections for spirit sales for 2021 are looking bleak, the post-holiday dip actually happens every year. Typically, there is a fourth quarter sales rush and strong December before sales drop in January. From December 2018 to January 2019, there was a $64 million drop in sales. The same period in 2020 saw sales fall by $50 million. The good news is that you can use this information to shape your marketing strategies.
Spirits Marketing Best Practices
There are some steps you can take to help make your brand more successful during January and beyond. Here are just a few suggestions:
- “Dry January” is a popular way to start off the new year and focus on health. This certainly contributes to a drop in sales which means that you should consider promoting low and/or no-alcohol products. Focus on targeting millennials who drank more alcohol-free beer and drinks during 2020. In fact, 61% of this demographic sampled alcohol-free beer during COVID-19.
- Use this time to take a closer look at your inventory. You will want to keep inventory numbers down, update inventory software for better efficiency and improve displays and storage. This will help prevent loss and set you up for future success.
- As you get to know your existing inventory better, figure out which products offer the best margins and focus your efforts on promoting those spirits.
- Now is also the time to go digital with ecommerce sales. Cold temperatures and stay-at-home orders will mean less foot traffic, so you want to make sure that you are optimizing online sales channels.
- Remember that consumers are going to be cost conscious after holiday spending sprees. Lower cost items will sell better, so one tip is to market these more heavily.
- A big part of spirits marketing is tasting rooms, but this simply isn’t an option in many places. However, you can still create a liquor tasting experience by selling at-home kits and hosting virtual events. Creatively curated to-go kits can be picked up curbside and to optimize safety. You can even use third-party services like Company Toast to help host virtual events.
- You can go the extra mile in creating a tasting experience by partnering with restaurants to offer a spirits and meal pairing. This type of collaboration is great for brand awareness.
- Take full advantage of digital marketing. With people staying at home, online communication is going to be key. Ramp up your social media, email marketing and other digital tools to support your overall spirits marketing strategy.
- Go the pop-up route. If your space isn’t conducive to hosting guests during COVID-19, you may be able to find an alternative space and host pop-up events. Bars and restaurants have been getting creative, so look to others for inspiration for your next brand activation.
While January may never be your best selling month, following these spirits marketing tips can certainly help improve your sales numbers. A focused strategy that targets the right products and the behaviors of certain demographics can make your spirits marketing efforts more successful than ever.
What have December to January sales trends looked like in the past few years?
Alcohol sales from December to January drop significantly. In 2019, January sales dropped by $64 million and in 2020, there was a $50 million fall in sales.
How can I beat the post-holiday slump for alcohol sales this January?
A comprehensive alcohol marketing strategy is key to improving January sales. You will want to optimize your existing inventory, focus on lower cost items and no and low alcohol products, provide at-home drink kits, increase digital marketing and ecommerce efforts and consider hosting pop-up bar events.
How can I offer to-go cocktail kits?
One simple way to offer to-go cocktail kits is to sell curated kits curbside. You can even partner with restaurants to do food and drink pairings and allow customers to order online and pick up their order in their car.