StateWays - July/August 2015

StateWays is the only magazine exclusively covering the control state system within the beverage alcohol industry, with annual updates from liquor control commissions and alcohol control boards and yearly fiscal reporting from control jurisdictions

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StateWays ■ ■ July/August 2015 34 C ontrol state agencies regularly revisit questions about the stock in their stores or warehouses. How much space should be devoted to each category, brand or product? And when should they add a new item, or delist an existing one? This task of overseeing Stock Keeping Units (SKUs) is greatly aided by the wealth of stats now available in the digital age. Control states have tapped into data to monitor sales fi gures, category trends, customer profi les and more. Armed with the right information, control states can pro- vide customers a broadly appealing selection of wine and spirits, while maximizing profi ts for their states. Smart Stocking Today's customers are increasingly knowledgeable and adventurous about their tastes for alcohol. Especially among Millennials, they purchase based on experimentation and connoisseurship. Accordingly, the Virginia Department of Alcohol Beverage Control tries to avoid "unnecessary product proliferation that makes it harder for the customer to fi nd what they want," says Becky Gettings, Communications Director at the VABC. This requires determining what is and isn't clutter. When opening a new store, "We target by demographics," Gettings says. "If a new store has a similar de- mographic [to another] we perform sales analysis to see what that group has been buying in the most recent 12 months and we make an assortment for the new store based on that result." For existing stores, "We continuously monitor consumer and sales trends to make sure that we are offering what our custom- ers want," she adds. "Bourbon is hot right now." The New Hampshire Liquor Commission also relies heavily upon digital tracking, and insight from business representatives. Working with customized analytics designed specifi cally for the NHLC's purchasing habits, industry experts called "Cat- egory Management Captains" — enlisted from Constellation Brands, and Southern Wine and Spirits of New England — create shelf sets for the state stores. Naturally, there are checks and balances. The shelf sets are looked over by a committee of local brokers, which reviews for "accuracy, fairness and logical sense," says Richard D. Gerrish, NHLC Director of Sales, Marketing, Merchandising and Distri- bution. The NHLC retains fi nal approval on SKUs. In this way, each store set is refreshed every year. Follow the Trends Among the most important data to monitor is customer pur- chases. It is critical that agencies stay up to date on the ebb and fl ow of consumer trends. "A few years ago, confectionary fl avored vodkas were trend- ing up, and our selection of those products increased with the increased sales," recalls Stacy Kriedeman, Director of External Affairs for the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. "However, now fl avored whiskeys are on the rise and so are the number of "We continuously monitor consumer and sales trends to make sure that we are offering what our customers want." – BECKY GETTINGS, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR VABC BY KYLE SWARTZ WHAT PRODUCTS MAKE THE CUT

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