Brand owners could take the opportunity to team up to cross-promote brands with vouchers, coupons or offers, said David Ware, grocery business unit director at marketing specialist SymphonyIRI. For example, during the summer a brewer might offer coupons for marinated chicken breasts with packs of beer, he added.
There might also be opportunities for cross-promotions in the form of combination packs, he said. “The idea would be to offer something like a ‘night-in’ package deal with chips, dips, alcohol and maybe a voucher for a rental DVD.”
Retailers currently use alcohol promotions to increase footfall in their stores and drive sales of food during key periods, such as during major sporting events, over the summer holidays and at Christmas, said Ware. For example, they like to position items for barbeques near drink offers to take advantage of impulse purchases when the weather is fine.
But the introduction of a 40p minimum price for alcohol and a ban on multi-buy drinks discounts would prevent retailers from using this approach, said Ware.
“Drinks manufacturers are going to have to start thinking more laterally about how to get their product in a consumer’s hand when there is no price [promotion] to bring them in,” he said.
Meanwhile, food firms fearful of losing sales because of the ban on purely alcohol related promotions are also likely to be interested in taking part in this sort of marketing, he added.
According to a spokesman for the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), such marketing approaches were worthy of consideration, although it is not something the FDF had looked at so far.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) also considered combination pack promotions worth investigating as a marketing tool since, according to a spokesman, existing food and drink combinations packs, such as port and cheese, were unlikely to be affected by a minimum alcohol price. However, a BRC spokesman stressed that retailers would not use it as a way disguising sales of cheap alcohol.
Before retailers took up such marketing they would need to evaluate the potential impact on their particular businesses, said the BRC spokesman. They would also need to consider compliance issues, such as legal requirements on displaying alcohol content on combination packs, he added.
Studies had yet to be undertaken on what impact minimum alcohol pricing night have on food and drink combination pack promotions, said a spokeswoman for market research specialist Mintel.
The government plans to introduce minimum pricing on alcohol from 2014.