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Blossoming Sector

In researching and writing our C-store focus one of the recurring themes that emerged was the success of branded wines in the sector, and, within that, the success of a certain Californian brand in particular.

And nowhere does this become more apparent than by looking at the performance of the top five wine brands in the top five convenience retailers.

These days as much as 8% of Blossom Hill sold in the UK is sold through Spar, a phenomenal figure, which trading controller at Spar, Liz Aked, puts down to a long association and a consistent approach by the brand. “Initially the red and white variants of Blossom Hill were launched through us and quickly built consumer franchise. Consistent retail pricing and good female appeal has also been a factor,” she explains.

And at brand owner Percy Fox, senior brand manager for Blossom Hill, Helen Wright, puts the success down to a combination of being easily recognisable, consistent and of good quality. “Blossom Hill is supported by regular marketing and advertising that communicates these core brand values,” she explains. “We also undergo continuous consumer research and regularly test consumer tastes, changing our wines to appeal.”

Who buys what from where?

Not content with simply finding out what the top convenience wine brands are, we thought we’d cast the net a bit wider and look at buying patterns for the beer, wine and spirit sectors.

According to TNS Alcoshop research, it is the 18 to 24 year-old age group and the 25 to 34 yearage group that buy alcohol from this sector more than in supermarkets (see charts to the right); while in the 50+ group there is a significant proportion who buy less alcohol from C-stores than supermarkets, which is perhaps in line with the more organised and bargain-conscious nature of more mature shoppers. Perhaps with the ever growing strength of the grey pound this is an area that needs to be addressed by convenience stores in years to come?

Interestingly, this chart also shows that men buy more alcohol from convenience stores than they do from supermarkets. With women being key purchasers in all FMCG categories – and key wine purchasers at that – perhaps this is another consumer sector that Cstores should be paying more attention to?

TNS Alcoshop was also able to provide us with breakdown information of different alcoholic drinks in the C-store BWS category, which shows that beer is clearly the preferred buy in this sector. Cider also comes off well, as do spirits and RTDs, but interestingly wine (and more predictably, fortified wine) perform less favourably. However, with wine’s growing share of the drinks market, this is clearly a sector destined for growth.

Finally, we asked consumers what consumption occasion alcohol is bought for in convenience stores.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, “just having a drink” came out on top, followed by “a sociable night in” and “having friends round”. With their strongly branded wine shelves stacked with well known names, the convenience store sector certainly seems well placed for the growing trend towards staying in and socialising at home. Which is handy.

The Co-op

1. Blossom Hill White

2. Blossom Hill Red

3. Jacob’s Creek Semillon/Chardonnay

4. Gallo White Grenache

5. Arniston Bay Chenin Blanc/ Chardonnay


1. Blossom Hill White

2. Masterpeace Cabernet/ Merlot

3. Jacob’s Creek Semillon/Chardonnay

4. Andrew Bain Reserve Pinotage

5. Blossom Hill Red


1. Blossom Hill Red

2. Blossom Hill White

3. Jacob’s Creek Grenache/Shiraz

4. Jacob’s Creek Semillon/Chardonnay

5. Blossom Hill White Zinfandel


1. Blossom Hill White

2. Blossom Hill Red

3. Blossom Hill White Zinfandel

 4. La Mancha White

5. E&J Gallo White Grenache


1. Blossom Hill White

2. Blossom Hill Red

3. Jacob’s Creek Semillon/Chardonnay

4. Sierra Valley White Grenache

5. Jacob’s Creek Shiraz/Cabernet

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