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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — In certain areas of Nashville — the hometown of Tri Star Energy's Twice Daily chain of convenience stores — craft and import beers are booming as consumers in the city are receptive to trying new items. The further you move out from Nashville and into more rural areas, though, customers prefer to stay tried-and-true to their regular premium and budget beer brands.
"Variety is great and desired, and you can have a good selection of what consumers want, but you also want to be careful not to tip the cart too far," advised Terry Messmer, sales manager for Twice Daily. "The majority of sales are still coming from the core (premium and budget/popular) — you need to take care of those brands first and foremost."
When it comes to stocking new and emerging offerings, Twice Daily looks in its own backyard. "In the past two to three years, it has been local, local, local," Messmer said.
In addition to Nashville breweries, "local" could include breweries throughout Tennessee. "This blurs the lines a little to what is actually local [vs.] a regional brand. We define local as within 25 miles of store locations, and anything outside that range is regional," he explained.
Twice Daily looks for synergy within 10 miles of a store when choosing which "local" craft brands to add to that store’s beer cooler. "If the brewery is within 10 miles of a store, then we'll put it in the store. We segment local crafts like that," Messmer said. "Then, there are a few craft beers that are well-known in the whole area so we have them in all the stores."
Craft, however, is not the biggest beer trend that Messmer is seeing — imports are.
Corona used to be the one import brand that retailers carried and made sure they had one package size available. But as import sales continue to grow, he said c-stores need to take a look at their days of supply, and their package selections. Other Mexican beers, like Modelo and Tecate, are also growing and need to be considered as viable packages, he explained.
Twice Daily is evaluating the viability of high-alcohol beers now, too, as recent changes to Tennessee laws have made it possible for convenience stores to carry high-alcohol beers, further crowding the beer cooler. According to Messmer, adding high-alcohol items into its beer set "will open the floodgates to another 50 to 100 SKU possibilities."
So, what is the right mix? "We need to be very careful not to expand too far and lose sight of premium and budget/popular, which still represent over 60 percent of beer sales," he said. "We want to make sure that we have the top high-alcohol packages available and, if space permits, add new brands to the mix."
C-store retailers have to look at insights from data and distributors to determine what the top sellers are. Additionally, they need to know which brands have a marketing plan and are looking to grow sales in the market, not just be content with space on the shelf, he concluded.