The role of the supermarket
as the gatekeeper to consumers’ drinking choices cannot be underestimated. As was proven by recent lockdowns, it was supermarkets that became the centre of people’s focus for food and drink choices. For many, it’s the first interaction they have when choosing what to drink.
Plus, it could be argued that supermarkets carry a burden of responsibility in their relationship with the modern customer. Drink choices need to be varied and interesting, match several different price points, support local and international suppliers and producers, be sustainable and provide a chance for customer education.
These points were all taken into consideration when the IWSC met with judges David Kermode and Ivan Dixon to choose the Wine and Spirit Supermarkets of the Year. View the nominees
Wine Supermarket of the Year
Over the past couple of decades, the variety of wine that supermarkets are expected to supply to their customer base has changed massively. No longer can bottles be put on a shelf and left for shoppers to randomly choose based on the back label. Now people demand variety and style; they want to know more about where products have come from and what they taste like.
The winner of this award was chosen because, as Kermode noted, “the innovation achieved while keeping budget in mind on such a wide scale is second to none.” The style and range of buying demonstrated clever and imaginative choices – the panel being particularly impressed with options such as a white Châteauneuf-du-Pape and an own-label organic Champagne.
In addition, the panel was impressed by the creation of a home delivery service, staff education and a huge commitment to being sustainable. This supermarket also set up a wine school to educate their increasingly engaged customers, delivering online courses with tips and jargon-free information. This was done while maintaining their core value of affordability and own-label branding.
Therefore, the panel was unanimous in awarding the Wine Supermarket of the Year to Aldi
Spirits Supermarket of the Year
Spirits are a difficult category to purchase and stock as a supermarket. High in value, it is a balancing act of making sure that the shelves meet the demands for a variety of spirit styles, types, and countries of production, while making sure lines continue to sell.
The winner continues to amaze and delight the judging panel as, year on year they raise the stakes in what is possible in drinks retailing. The judges were impressed not only with the proactive way the supermarket chain makes their purchasing decisions but also with the level of customer engagement, seen in high-quality free materials and paid online-led tastings.
Given the breadth of the buying, the range is eclectic, interesting and covers all styles and, as Dixon commented, “it is great to see them taking risks in their buying decisions. They believe in the people producing and the liquid.” In today’s market where homogeneity rules, it is heartening to see the wide range of spirits stocked – and that in the past year over 70 new lines were introduced.
The winner of Spirits Supermarket of the Year is Waitrose & Partners
More results: The IWSC awards distributors and suppliers for innovation in wine and spirits