One the verge of an important Memorial Day weekend for beer sales, a number of the country’s top-selling brands aren’t on shelves at two of the country’s largest retailers.
According to new information from Quri, a San Francisco-based retail intelligence company providing insight into merchandising conditions at major U.S. retailers, many of the country’s largest brands are out of stock at Walmart and Target.
Tapping into its network of 500,000 “on-demand” consumers using the company’s “Easy Shift” mobile app — which pays shoppers to visit grocery, convenience, drug and mass merchandiser stores and submit photographs of retail sets — Quri obtained merchandising measurements for eight popular brands: Bud Light, Coors Light, Corona, Samuel Adams, Blue Moon, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Kona’s Longboard Lager and Mike’s Hard Lemonade.
For the seven-day period ending May 25, Quri found that, on average, those brands were only available on Walmart and Target shelves 64 percent of the time. Display presence — placements outside of the beer aisle — were measured at just 28 percent.
Although the number of stores including in the reporting was “limited,” the out of stocks are not ideal heading into Memorial Day weekend, Quri chief marketing officer James Lamberti told Brewbound.
“The data set is pretty limited, but it is directional and it is still pretty shocking to see those numbers,” he said.
On an individual brand level, Kona Brewing’s Longboard Lager — a bright spot in a Craft Brew Alliance portfolio that’s currently struggling to grow the Widmer Brothers and Redhook labels — performed the worst in Quri’s set. Kona’s on-shelf availability at Walmart and Target, the largest and sixth-largest retailers in the U.S., according to the National Retail Federation, was just 14 percent, Lamberti said.
It’s important to note that Kona’s 14 percent on-shelf availability — and 5 percent out of stock rate — could mean a few things: It’s possible that CBA had not secured an authorization within the stores included in the data set or that its wholesalers had not executed on retail authorizations and failed to deliver product to the accounts. It’s also possible that the retailer had the product in-store, but had not finished building the set when the photograph was taken.
But on the other end of the spectrum, beach-themed Mexican import Corona, which relies on summer for much of its sales, had 93 percent on-shelf availability, Lamberti added.
Combined, all eight beer brands had a 5 percent out of stock rate, the company said. Mike’s Hard Lemonade topped the list at 10 percent, while Samuel Adams had an out of stock rate of 9 percent.
In a press release, Quri characterized those out of stock rates as “surprisingly high for major brands during a vital period.”
For major beer suppliers, out of stock issues in the days leading up to key holiday sales periods like Memorial Day mean missed opportunities. And it’s an area of the business that Quri — which sells its “real-time” data to a variety of companies including Heineken, Kraft Foods, Procter & Gamble and Nestle, among others — believes beer companies need to improve.
“A lot of these shelves are just not setup the way you think it would be for some of these major brands,” Lamberti said. “We’ve lived with this issue in the industry forever because we’ve never had visibility, but now we do and we can make improvements to it. The data itself is all about providing the information necessary to go in, take action and make changes.”
So in an effort to provide a better sightline into summer out of stock issues, and to presumably drum up some business for itself along the way, Quri plans to share merchandising metrics for 45 brands across 14 consumer goods categories.
The company’s “Summer of Merchandising” program will run each month in 1,000 Walmart and Target stores, through Labor Day, and will offer analytics for brands’ display presence and type, and on-shelf availability.
Backed by $31.4 million in venture funding, according to CrunchBase, Quri currently has 60 employees and works with 200 leading CPG companies. Its software and analytics platform, Lamberti said, enables companies to optimize trade spend, reduce out of stocks and improve retail efficiency.
“People are trying to do way too much with way too little,” he said. “We can cover 95 percent of the retail doors in this country within a week, and we can get information to our clients very quickly.”