Livvy Adamson: Stocking a mix of local and big brand no-alcohol lines gives Tout’s a stand-out Dry January display

After the bonanza of the festivities, January can be a bit of a hangover for retailers’ off-licence takings. However, two forecourt operators are proving there is plenty of opportunity for boosting revenues in a month where many turn teetotal.

With the increasing popularity of Dry January, one prominent group has launched a big push on alcohol-free beverages, which it says is paying off in increased sales.

Meanwhile, another forecourt operator is turning the initiative on its head with a Try January promotion, urging customers giving teetotalism a swerve to experiment with drinks they have not previously sampled.

For the first time, independent forecourt operator Tout’s is running a concerted marketing and merchandising campaign for Dry January at its stores in Cleeve, Nailsea and Langford. It has introduced gondola end displays, promotions, supplier run sampling, and marketing with an email newsletter and social media.

“Our Dry January email had a 40% open rate, with the average open rate for the retail industry being around 20%, this shows how engaged our audience really is with Tout’s and Dry January as a concept,” says its digital marketing executive Emma Browne. “And we’ve had a positive response on social posts and stories on Facebook and Instagram, with good reach and better engagement with customers.”

As a result, sales of no- and low-alcohol drinks are up 4.2% in volume across its three sites in North Somerset.

Tout’s trading expert Livvy Adamson says that a lot of the growth is down to the business developing its locally supplied alcohol-free range, which now accounts for 75% of the company’s no- and low-alcohol business. In fact, Clear Head, an alcohol-free IPA from Bristol Beer Factory, is its sixth best-selling line in volume terms across its beers, wines and spirits (BWS) category.

For Dry January, Tout’s introduced two new local suppliers – Mockery Drinks with its non-alcoholic Elderflower Collins, Raspberry Mojito, and Pear & Ginger Mule in 250ml cans, and Drinks Kitchen which has a range of four non-alcoholic aperitifs. The latter is on offer at £12.99, down from £16.99, during the month and sales of its Spiced Rhubarb, Herb Verde, Orange Cinchona and Grapefruit Piqante varieties have performed well during sampling, with 13 bottles sold after one session.

Also performing well are alcohol-free versions of Guinness stout, Thatchers cider, which is locally produced, and Kopparberg cider, McGuigan and Nozeco wine, and Corona and Stella beer, Gordon’s gin, and an alcohol-free Co-op spirit. Promotions include Nozecco at £3.75, Budweiser Zero can four-pack at £3, and Gordon’s Alcohol Free at £12.50. And to encourage cross-category sales, Fever-Tree and Co-op mixers are included on the bottom of the fixture in the Nailsea and Langford stores.

Livvy says the business plans to re-run of its efforts next January and says that no- and low-alcohol will continue to play an important part of its BWS sales throughout the year. “I think it’s important to back this category not just for January. We’ve seen a shift in people’s lifestyles as they look to cut back on alcohol, and offering both local and well-known convenience no- and low- alcohol brands gives us a point of difference throughout the year,” says Livvy. “We have had interest in these product ranges from a variety of demographics, further showing that it is becoming more mainstream to drink less,” she adds.


Goran Raven has built a chilled Try January display, inviting customers to experiment with international and craft beers

Forecourt retailer Goran Raven says that his “tongue in cheek” Try January campaign is also capturing shoppers’ imaginations. He cleared out a two-door chiller to give a push to international and craft beer and says that as a result, he is enjoying a single digit uplift in sales at his Raven’s Budgens site in Abridge, Essex.

“It is a fun attempt at moving beer sales. Because it is not going along with everyone else it seems to have got attention. We’ve blocked the beer in colours so that it looks nice, and it’s a good way for us to engage with customers in the store and on social media,” says Goran.

Brands which have been doing particularly well are Neck Oil, Asahi and Leffe Belgian beer.

“It helps us stand out from the pack. Consumers have the choice to shop anywhere and we all sell roughly the same, so this helps us to stand out.” Asked if Goran will run a repeat next January, he says: “ I don’t see why not, and maybe we will make it a bit bigger. It’s nice to be a little different.”