Fascinating data in the March 1st edition of Convenience Store News, specifically related to category sales growth. In the Beer category:
Dollar Sales of Imported Beer were UP 2.4% in 2011 over 2010
Dollar Sales of Super Premium Beer were UP 10.7% in 2011 over 2010
Dollar Sales of Microbrews were UP 13.9% in 2011 over 2010
Dollar Sales of Malt Liquor were DOWN 4%
Dollar Sales of Non-Alcoholic Beer were DOWN 11.2%
Very interesting data. But what should you take from that if you are a retailer or manufacturer of beer? Well, clearly there is an OVERALL rising demand for imported and craft beers and a shrinking demand for malt liquor and non-alcoholic beer. But where is the demand SPECIFICALLY? If you work for a C-Store Retailer or a Grocery Retailer you don't want to go out and increase shelf space for imported and craft beers at all stores.
You’ll want to adopt a customer analytics approach by combining this knowledge with other detailed, household-level consumer behavior data sets to understand which of your chain's trade areas have a high propensity to drink imported and craft beers and which ones don't. You want to then optimize your shelf space based on that knowledge. You can then go even further with the data to not only understand which households in the trade area have a high propensity to drink these beers but to actually hit those specific households with a targeted marketing message to increase customer penetration.
Stores with high demand get more shelf space devoted to imported and craft beers. Stores with low demand wouldn't get significant shelf space – if any – for these types of beers. Again, though, use that localized, consumer behavior data to understand which beer products would be in high demand in those trade area and optimize your shelf space to reflect that localized beer demand. The same should be done for all product categories. Each of your trade areas are not the same. Everyone needs to eat and drink. But not everyone wants to eat and drink the same things. Utilize data to understand those food and beverage desires, on a trade area by trade area basis, to optimize shelf space and therefore significantly increase in-store sales.