Two of Albertsons' Own Brands executives who have been driving the company’s private label wine and spirits offerings are identifying key trends in the category. Maryrose Rinella and Jose Rodriguez have helped create the more than 50 brands and 140 SKUs and counting that comprise Albertsons’ own brand potent potables, and know the category well.
Rodriguez said that innovation is a key part of keeping offerings relevant to Albertsons shoppers. “I spend a lot of time innovating and finding new opportunities for our portfolio,” he said. “At any given time, I can have more than 20 new item projects that I’m working on that could really add value to the consumer and our stores.”
The pair have identified three critical trends in the industry — health and wellness, convenience and premiumization. On the health and wellness front, this means creating products that deliver on low-calorie, low-sugar or low-alcohol demands.
“Shoppers are gravitating towards lower alcohol, ‘better-for-you’ offerings, as they focus more on their own health and wellness,” Rinella said. “In fact, last year one in five U.S. consumers participated in ‘Dry January.’”
When it comes to convenience, cans are one of the hottest commodities in wine and spirits — including hard seltzers, canned wine and ready-to-drink cocktails.
“One of our biggest growth innovation items for the last year has been our barrel-fermented Creamery Chardonnay,” Rodriguez said. “Due to the item’s success, we recently launched the wine in a 375ml canned wine format to extend use occasions and received a gold medal at the International Canned Wine Competition. We were one of only 10 Chardonnays/Sauvignon Blancs combined to be recognized.”
And in terms of premiumization, the execs said that consumers are seeking quality over quantity, and Albertsons is working to delivery across its banners on that demand. “Our Signature Reserve line, which we launched about a year ago, is a top-shelf premium brand. We just received some really amazing scores on the wine and spirit items that really highlight the quality behind each item being introduced under the brand.”
The company also has introduced an exclusive wine Advent calendar, which includes a host of high-quality wines.
“We’ve sourced these wines from very specific regions such as California’s Paso Robles, Washington’s Columbia Valley, and Oregon’s Willamette Valley,” Rodriguez said. “These are really premium wines with a unique sense of place.”
Among Rinella’s and Rodriguez’s favorite products are the Signature Reserve Brut, Signature Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and Signature Reserve Tennessee Whiskey.