Threshers for the drop?

Noting the imminent demise of the Threshers wine stores and considering two dimensions: firstly pressures on the sector, and secondly differentiation within the sector. This could be a classic case-study question for marketing students!

Since supermarkets first carved a niche for themselves in the drinks sector ( I seem to remember Sainsburys were the pioneers), the high street wine stores have been under pressure. Apart from a small window of opportunity on Sunday evenings when even 24hr Supermarkets lock their doors, competing is an uphill struggle. Competition also comes from the convenience stores with the off-licence counter who have a more diversified offer and not so dependent upon the booze trade. Government and social pressure can also hae done little to help this besieged sector.

Within the sector little has been done to make an offer differentiated from the supermarkets. Take me blindfolded and remove the mask before a Threshers’ rack and I would be hard pressed to tell if I was in a supermarket or not.

There are small specialist wine merchants carving niches at the top end and carefully loading cases of premier crus into their customers’ 4x4s, but there are few differentiated brand offers in this difficult arena.

Oddbins and Majestic have always had rather quirky personalities that have created a measure of differentiation, but this has been a matter of personality, presentation and communications rather than a distinct business model. The sector needs some dynamic thinking if it is not to disappear altogether into the omnivorous maws of the supermarkets.

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