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First Choice Liquor: first in customer satisfaction

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), September 2015-August 2016, n=6,200; and July 2015-June 2016, n=6,982

For the third consecutive month, First Choice Liquor has come first in the Liquor Store category of Roy Morgan’s Customer Satisfaction Awards, with a score of just over 93% in August. Less than a percent separates the Coles-affiliated liquor superstore from its runner-up, Cellarbrations (93%), while its perpetual rival Dan Murphy’s is close behind in third place (92%). We take a closer look at this extremely competitive sector, and consider what satisfaction looks like for Australian alcohol shoppers.

Compared to some of the categories measured in the awards, where customer satisfaction levels can vary dramatically between contenders (International Airlines spring to mind), Liquor Stores tend to attract similarly high scores, as the chart below illustrates. Only IGA Liquor lags behind, satisfying a relatively low 76% of its customers (a dramatic year-on-year decline from 91% in August 2015).

Liquor store satisfaction: August 2016


Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), September 2015-August 2016, n=6,200.

Part of the Metcash-owned Independent Brands Australia (IBA) group, IGA Liquor’s decline is a striking contrast to its fellow IBA-owned chain Cellarbrations, which has gone from satisfying 78% of its customers to 93% in the same period.

So close… yet so far

Despite their near-identical satisfaction scores, Roy Morgan data from the 12 months to June 2016 suggests that people who usually shop at First Choice and Cellarbrations may be happy for different reasons.

When asked which factors are most important to them when buying alcohol, the two groups reveal some strikingly different priorities. For example, being ‘located where I do other shopping’ is important to a substantially higher proportion of Cellarbrations customers (48%) than First Choice customers (28%); while ‘good value’ matters much more to First Choice customers (81%) than those who shop at Cellarbrations (61%).

But the differences don’t stop there. Customers who usually shop at First Choice are far more likely than their Cellarbrations counterparts to consider ‘A good range’,  ‘good weekly specials’ and a ‘good place for buying bulk purchases’ important when buying alcohol, even as Cellarbrations customers place a higher priority on ‘helpful staff’ and the store being ‘close to home’.

Meanwhile, a convenient location is not a priority for people who usually shop at Dan Murphy’s. Less than half (44%) nominate ‘Close to home’ and less than a quarter (24%) name ‘Located where I do other shopping’ as important factors when buying alcohol, being more concerned with ‘good value’ (84%) and a ‘good range’ (55%).

Norman Morris, Industry Communications Director, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“Overall, the country’s liquor retailers are doing a good job of keeping their customers satisfied, with most achieving satisfaction scores in the 90s and high 80s during August. We congratulate First Choice Liquor for excelling in such a competitive field.

“It’s interesting to note that there seems to be no guaranteed, gold-standard benchmark for satisfying a liquor shopper: different stores’ customers don’t necessarily value the same things when buying alcohol. Retailers must therefore understand what matters most to their customers and adapt accordingly, rather than simply follow another store’s example.

“The difference between what First Choice, Cellarbrations and Dan Murphy’s customers look for when shopping for booze is a case in point. Each chain may satisfy a similarly high proportion of their shoppers, but in each case, satisfaction appears to be driven by very different factors.

“Cellarbrations have made huge inroads in customer satisfaction over the last 12 months, even as their IBA stablemate IGA Liquor’s satisfaction levels have fallen. These shifting satisfaction levels appear to coincide with IBA converting its IGA Liquor outlets to Cellarbrations in WA, potentially signalling a new phase for both chains – we will certainly be monitoring them closely in coming months. Another one to watch will be Coles’s new low-cost alcohol venture, Liquor Market. How will Coles differentiate it alongside its existing alcohol brands, First Choice, Liquorland and Vintage Cellars – and how will customers respond? Only time will tell.

“With factors as diverse as store convenience, range of stock, price, staff and even store layout being of varying importance to different kinds of alcohol shopper, it is a challenge for bottle shops to hit on a winning formula for success. However, Roy Morgan’s comprehensive alcohol data can make the task easier, shedding light on the preferences, habits and attitudes of Aussie liquor buyers, and enabling retailers to convert this knowledge into higher levels of customer satisfaction.”

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About Roy Morgan

Roy Morgan is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices throughout Australia, as well as in Indonesia, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate


25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%