26 January, 2020

Industry insights with Pernod Ricard's Jeff McKenzie

Industry insights with Pernod Ricard's Jeff McKenzie

Pernod Ricard's Jeff McKenzie shares his insights on what’s trending, what makes a business successful and where the industry is heading.

There are four significant trends currently impacting and changing the face of the industry according to Pernod Ricard sales director Jeff McKenzie.

Jeff has worked in the industry for nearly 12 years, starting as National Customer Manager for Independents; and now leading a geographically diverse commercial team of more than 100 people across Australia to ensure that employees have clear direction, stay connected and share common goals.

“Firstly, health and well-being is something that is being carefully monitored by the wine and spirits industry to ensure that we are tapping into this consumer shift.”

From the ‘Kombucha’ craze to a shift towards organic wines, it’s undeniable that ‘healthy’ drinks are increasingly popular among consumers.

The second trend, says Jeff, is the way technology is changing alcohol retailing.

“Digital is more important than ever before and we are seeing the sophistication of the retailer increasing. It is clear that we are firmly in the digital age, [with] ‘store concepts’, meaning the layout of stores evolving to be more engaging to shoppers and create a greater shopping experience, changing the shopper experience."

Thirdly, “convenience is becoming increasingly important to a consumer group that is often time poor and on the run,” Jeff explains.

“Alcohol delivery – ordering and receiving cold that day - is one very important element to convenience. Consumers expectations of shopping for liquor are no different to other categories; they are being driven by how fast the shopping landscape is changing, from choice and information to service and delivery and we need to keep up.”

For example, we've seen popular delivery companies like Jimmy Brings deliver alcohol in just 30 minutes from a smartphone app. 

Lastly, the increase in consumers attraction to premium beverages is definitely on trend right now.

“Absolutely premiumisation is a continuing and long-term trend that is set to continue.

“We can see that consumer purchasing decisions are maintaining strong levels in the premium segments and believe that this is going to be key to ongoing business success.

“One great attribute about the Pernod Ricard portfolio is that a majority of the products across our Wine, Champagne and Spirits portfolio are playing in premium through to luxury,” says Jeff.

These premium brands include: Jacobs Creek, Mumm and Perrier Jouet Champagnes, Chivas Regal, the Glenlivet, Absolut, Jameson, Martell.

What makes a beverage business successful?

First and foremost, Jeff believes that innovation is the key to a successful business in our current fast paced consumer landscape.

“Innovation is a key driver of growth for the industry. This has manifested in the ways suppliers and trade partners are now delivering innovation that taps into key consumer trends to fit their needs,” he says.

Moreover, Jeff has no doubt that platforms such as social media and influencers are rapidly changing innovation and marketing strategies in the industry.

“The landscape is constantly changing in this area and we need to ensure that we are staying ahead of the game and maximising the opportunities that this can offer for our brands to resonate with consumers and drive purchasing decisions."

Indeed, Pernod Ricard’s Australian marketing strategies for Absolut Vodka have been tapping into the millennial market by using Instagram as an ideal advertising platform, keeping in trend with rose gold colour tones, pineapple and flamingo accessories, drinks in jars and trendy ‘Botanik’ flavoured vodka to create an appeal of ‘health’.

“Absolut's belief is that creativity can be a force for good and catalyst for change - and it's this creativity and openness that have always been part of the Absolut's DNA,” says Jeff.

Source: Instagram @absolut_au 

Where the industry is heading

A future shift, according to Jeff, is the potential for alcohol packaging to become more sustainable.

“We know our consumers are concerned about the environment and that they are more frequently choosing brands that have a commitment to minimising their impact on the community.

“As a business, we are always looking to develop and improve every element of our product offering, including the sustainability of our packaging."

Lastly, Jeff believes that online retailing could be a game changer. However, instead of seeing online alcohol retailing and big players like Amazon coming to Australia as a threat, he views it as an opportunity.

“Online retailing is already happening and offers further selling avenues whilst maintaining traditional trade partnerships. We have seen this work successfully in other markets and this creates a strong opportunity to increase sales and convenience in the future.”