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Greater economic difficulties were at the source of a slight contraction in alcoholic drinks consumption in France in 2012. Yet, with French consumers still favouring consumption in the
comfort of their own homes over the more expensive foodservice experience, there is still room for beverage brand owners to bring the fun home. Leading alcoholic drinks producer Groupe Pernod Ricard’s latest attempt to shake up the challenged spirits marketplace with packaging innovation – this time adding a smaller 350ml glass bottle version of some of its key brands to the mix – is a smart way to match demand for greater affordability with a consumer desire to drink less but to also enhance their experience with product quality and choice.
Among the most developed regions, the French have been particularly strong advocates of at-home consumption as a way to keep budgets under control amid tight economic conditions. But, beyond the economy factor, this shift towards the off-trade also reflects a desire from French consumers to go back to what they used to know, which translates into more home cooking and more intimate get-togethers with family and friends. Retail volume sales of alcoholic drinks have once again gained share over the on-trade channel as a result.
However, following a similar trend to most other alcoholic drinks categories in France, spirits volume consumption declined by 2% in 2012. French consumers are drinking less overall,
and, although the tumultuous economic situation is largely to blame here, a growing health and wellness trend is acting as another reason for consumers to drink less alcohol. Generations below the age of 50 years are increasingly drinking in moderation when it comes to alcohol intake, although they are tending to favour a greater variety of taste experiences.
In this context, Groupe Pernod Ricard is still promoting at-home cocktail making in France through its packaging innovation in a bid to boost its value sales of spirits. Following the launch of the rather niche Malibu Mix Bag range of RTDs in easy-to-handle 1.5-litre plastic pouches in 2011, the number one spirits company in France chose in April 2012 to re-invent its flagship brands Clan Campbell, Jameson (both whiskies), Malibu (rum), Absolut (vodka), Beefeater (gin) and Ricard (other spirits) in smaller 350ml glass bottle versions of their standard 700ml
and 1-litre formats for the retail channel. These 350ml bottles will certainly be appealing to consumers due to their immediate affordability; they are likely to encourage purchases of multiple products at once and give consumers new occasions to consume them.
Perhaps more importantly, the move is expected to act as bait and drive volume sales of spirits in standard sizes, too. With the help of point-of-sale displays, Groupe Pernod Ricard will be inviting shoppers to walk down the spirits aisle again, and the boost to brand awareness brought about by the new smaller format should enable the brands’ more standard 700ml and 1-litre glass bottles to see increases in volume sales in 2013.
France is not the only country where cocooning is growing in importance and where spirits could do with a revamp. In future, alcoholic and soft drinks manufacturers selling in Western
Europe could benefit from focusing on new pack sizes that aim to renew consumption occasions.