Waitrose to boost rum and cognac shop online

Waitrose is upping its focus on premium rums and Cognacs, following the success of its dedicated Gin, Whisky and Champagne & Sparkling Wine ‘shop within a shop’ on Waitrose Cellar.

The retailer launched dedicated a ‘shop with a shop’ for Whisky, followed by Champagne & Sparkling in May 2018, and later Gin, which according to BWS boss Pierpaolo Petrassi MW has resulted in “brilliant growth” in those areas.

The retailer was now eyeing up the potential for Rum and Cognac, telling db it has plans to expand the range.

“Rum will be something we will really focus on going forward, likewise Cognac,” Pierpaolo told db. “We see a huge opportunity, so while we have not overtly advertised as a shop within a shop, if you look at our Rum and Cognac ranges, we have more regionality.  For example, the range we stock really reflects the tropical zone around the world where sugar cane is grown.”

He said there was a “huge opportunity” for these spirits.

“There’s already a category ‘beacon’ in this area. Bacardi has been a byword for rum for decades, but what we want to do is entice customers to explore beyond White Rum and find out more about Golden and Dark Rums,” he said.

He added that there had been a change of the perception of how these spirits are consumed.  The accepted norm was that you sipped Malt Whisky and Cognac ‘straight’, and you mixed Rum and Tequila.

“There’s almost been a reversal where people are now enjoying Rum and Tequila more ‘straight’, and there are more mixed drinks consumed using Malt Whisky and Cognac,” he explained. “So we’re seeing that blurring of the two areas quite clearly, and that’s something we are best-placed within the marketplace to take advantage of.  We have the ability to create excitement and experience, as well as provide inspiration for customers.”

This was, he added “incredibly important”, pointing to instore tastings, online information, distiller interviews and inspirational publications such as Waitrose Drinks, Waitrose Food or the iconic, twice yearly Waitrose Drinks List.

“We have the ability to hopefully allow the customer to interact with lots of different touch-points to really understand the product and give them the inspiration and courage to try it,” he explained.

The key to new launches, he said, lay in addressing “all the touch points with which the customer interacts with you in order to have the true impact – it has to resonate across lots of different channels and media as well.”

Waitrose also has its first guided Wine Tasting at Home experience, which was launched in January 2018, and followed this with a ‘Gin O’Clock’ guided tasting  last year, and one devoted solely to Whisky.

In February, the retailer overhauled its spirits range in a bid to boost its falling market share of the category, strip out duplication and stand out from the competition.

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