There is a category within Travel Retail that causes all sorts of debate and discussion. It is a category that some might consider to be the problem child. How can we create a credible offer in a way that engages the shopper in a profitable and easy to manage way?

That category is….

​Wine. This also has implications for every other category too.

Most people would agree that Wine is a category that has yet to be mastered in store.  Some might even argue whether it indeed has a role to play at all within the travel retail environment. There are a few reasons why you might think this way:

  1. It is a complex category requiring a breadth of range to enable a credible offer
  2. Some perceive it to be low value, low margin category
  3. Operationally it can be difficult to manage
  4. Product knowledge is often specialist
  5. There is a degree of perceived snobbery in the category

When thinking about Wine, I am often reminded of a conversation I once had. I had been advising on increasing the Confectionery space in a particular store. My recommendation was challenged with the following arguments.

“I would rather fill that space with Whisky. For every bottle of Whisky I sell, I would need to sell 6 to 8 confectionery items.”

I could see the logic but that logic is a flawed one. A Whisky shopper isn’t going to drop the bottle of Whisky in favour of buying a bag of sweets. A Whisky shopper might just add some confectionery into the basket.

After much debate, my recommendation for better Confectionery space went ahead and sales grew benefiting the category AND the store. Sales grew to such an extent that the location became the most productive Confectionery space in the portfolio of stores. Confectionery had its role to play and given the right platform, it did so beautifully.

The Case For Wine (please pardon the pun!)

Wine is probably the single Liquor sub-category that has the broadest appeal. It is a socially acceptable drink for all occasions whether that is at a family gathering over Sunday or in a nightclub on a Saturday night. It appeals to every generation regardless of status, financial or otherwise. It can even be a very acceptable gift….. just like Confectionery.

So, let us imagine how Wine could play out. Wine has:

  • Broad appeal (Gender, Age etc)
  • Easy to be relevant as it is part of everyday life (unlike some Spirits)
  • Is affordable across all levels of income
  • The ability to drive traffic into store
  • Can enable cross category purchasing
  • It is a key gifting item

​What options would you have in terms of Category Management? At a simple level:


​Locations would not necessarily have all of these options available. The offer would be tailored to the passenger profile.The next step is to think about how it is executed in practice. What is the customer decision tree? Is it Colour, Origin, Grape? Or is it Origin, Colour, Grape? Or is it a whole range of other options? In truth, it varies by shopper and reason for purchase. The key is to make the process as simple as possible and to avoid confusion.

Make Wine visible, accessible (at all price levels) and easy to understand.

The Implications For Other Categories

Having observed shoppers in both Domestic and Travel Retail, it is clear that once people have one item in their basket, they are more open to adding more items to the transaction. Bringing different shoppers into the store can have a halo effect on other categories. Someone who wants to shop for Wine may go on to buy Beauty, Confectionery or other categories.

Appealing to a broader shopper spectrum will drive additional foot flow, additional conversion and improve transaction values. The danger though would be to try and over premiumise and then see the execution fail.

Personally… I think Wine could be the Confectionery of the Liquor category.

​I would welcome any thoughts or comments. Thank you for reading and sharing.