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Following a stellar regular season, the Vancouver Canucks made the 2023/24 Stanley Cup playoffs. The atmosphere is electric, and it’s not just the fans feeling the thrill. While it's no surprise that sports bars are bustling, this year, fans and new supporters alike are also finding ways to celebrate together at home with a cold one. This excitement is reflected in BC liquor retail sales of +18.5%, especially in the home market of the Canucks, Greater Vancouver Area, which leads the province with sales up +22.8% compared to the same period last year. However, the full story might just surprise you.

Harnessing Fobi’s Data Exchange, we gained full visibility into customer behaviour and market trends, down to the city and regional levels. With access to exclusive, real-time data from private liquor stores across BC, we've analyzed the influence of the Canucks' playoff presence on consumer spending, comparing liquor beverage sales between the 2023 and 2024 playoffs. 

Join us as we take a look at some of the biggest stars of the Vancouver Canucks Playoff Run:

Revitalizing the Canucks’ Playoff Run

While beer may still dominate in terms of overall revenue sales during hockey playoffs, there has been a notable shift in consumer preferences in Vancouver this year. Ready-to-drink (RTD) beverages, which are light and refreshing pre-mixed drinks ready to be consumed at any time, are experiencing a significant surge in sales of +27.6% compared to last year. This indicates a growing trend towards healthier and more refreshing options among Canucks fans.

Year after year, RTD beverages have experienced healthy growth but this playoff season reveals a clear trend: fans crave variety, and RTD beverages are stepping up as the perfect alternative. With an influx of new fans who prefer options beyond traditional beer, RTD beverages are becoming an essential. 

Sales of both large and small packs are up significantly, with 12 packs and singles increasing by +32% and +30% compared to last year—a combination of stocking up and quick grab ‘n go variety. By no surprise, leading this trend is the #1 brand White Claw, whose sales have spiked by +27%, however, it’s brands like Ole, +94%, Twisted Tea, +67%, and Georgian Bay, +39%, which are experiencing the biggest percent growth with the Canucks in this year’s playoffs.

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The Uncontested Playoff Champion

This year, when the Vancouver Canucks hit the playoffs, fans geared up seriously, ensuring their fridges are well-stocked with beer for the intense games ahead. The demand for large packs skyrocketed, with sales of 18-packs soaring by +92%, 20-packs by +52%, and 24-packs by +33%, ensuring there's no shortage during those nail-biting games, including overtime.

But it's not just about stocking up; it's about stocking right, particularly when they’re consumed every other night, and more if you support more teams. Fans favor lighter, smoother beers for their playoff marathons. 

Budweiser leads with a solid +28% sales increase, earning its place as the playoff beer of choice. However, as we dig deeper into the sales data these brands are experiencing the greatest growth when we compare their performance at the end of the regular season with this year's playoffs—Michelob Ultra rose +14.84%, rising thanks to its refreshing taste, while Corona enjoys a +9% uptick. Sleeman and Bud Light also show solid gains, each up by +6.5%.

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Craft Breweries Score Big

Let's not forget about our love for craft beer in BC, which has seen a +26.2% surge in sales compared to last year, demonstrating just how much Vancouverites rally around their local breweries. Vancouver Island Brewing, +66%, Balderdash Brewing, +49%, and Red Truck & Cariboo, +40%, lead the pack vs the 2023 playoffs.

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Heading into the playoffs, 3 local favorites stood above the rest, each catering to unique tastes. Steamworks Flagship IPA boasts a bold, hoppy flavor, enjoying a +23.65% spike in sales. With its crisp, refreshing taste, Red Truck Lager has also gained popularity, increasing sales by +14.86%. Completing the trio, Yellow Dog's High 5 Hazy IPA, up by +14.18%, offers a juicy tropical explosion.

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These standout craft beers not only elevate the playoff atmosphere but also highlight BC's rich brewing heritage, with Canucks fans increasingly turning to high-quality local brews as the season's MVPs.

From the Predators to the Oilers

As two of Canada's top hockey teams face off in the second round of the playoffs, Fobi’s customized analytics dashboard showcases the shift in fan preferences. Looking at the first 5 games of the Predator series vs. the Oilers series, there's a clear trend: the once high demand for 24-packs is tapering off, giving way to a growing preference for 15-packs. Perhaps fans are moderating their drinking, adding in more RTD Bev, or taking advantage of BC Liquor Stores’ deep discounts on 36 and 24-packs.

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However, this shift isn't just about quantity; it also reflects changes in brand popularity. Top brands like Lucky, Michelob Ultra, and Sleeman are seeing significant growth, with increases of +15%, +12%, and +9%, respectively. While the RTD category is up by +9%, thanks in part to the great weather. Notably, Ole stands out with sales spiking over +20% across BC in this second round of the playoffs.

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Light Beers and Bold Decisions

It looks like Canucks fans might have gone a tad overboard with their favorite drinks during the opening series and are now mixing it up as the playoffs progress—there's an obvious tilt towards lighter beers, like Michelob Ultra and Sleeman Clear, reflecting a calorie-conscious choice—mirrored by the rising popularity of Diet Pepsi and Coke Zero. 

Yet, for every action, there's a reaction: some fans are balancing the scale by opting for bolder flavors like the robust Colt 45 and Wily Wolverine Strong Lager at 8% alc.—both experiencing growth over +50% this playoff season.


Aligning Your Business with Playoff Excitement

As the Canucks and Oilers series keeps fans on the edge of their seats, with the Canucks up by 1 going into game 6, the excitement only grows. There’s a whole lot of hockey left to enjoy, and each game is a prime opportunity for retailers and brands to benefit. Retailers, now’s the time to optimize your inventory and staffing—game days are seeing a whopping +25.89% spike in sales for beer and RTD cocktails, so make sure you’re well-stocked in the fridge and on the floor. 

Brands, seize this moment! Are you ready to amp up your promotions and marketing strategies to harness the playoff energy? With the stakes higher than ever and Round 3 just around the corner, creative campaigns and targeted promotions could send your sales soaring alongside the fan excitement.

That's why Fobi offers a fully automated platform with real-time, actionable insights into consumer behaviour and market dynamics, at both the retail store and industry level, enabling informed, data-driven decision-making.

By understanding what customers are reaching for, liquor retailers can tailor their product development, marketing campaigns, and engagement initiatives, ensuring their shelves are stocked with the right mix of products to keep the celebrations going strong. To learn how your business can leverage real-time insights to remain agile and responsive in an increasingly competitive landscape, contact us at https://www.fobi.ai/contact or check out our latest press releases with Red Truck Beer, Vancouver Island Brewing, and Asahi Canada.

Whether you're cheering from home or a local bar, here's to the Canucks, their dedicated fans, and the exciting playoff moments we all share. Here's to more goals, more drinks, and unforgettable memories. Go Canucks go!


Post by Fobi
May 17, 2024