Spring Racing Carnival – what are the offpremise opportunities?

Topics: Channel / Retail, Home Previews, Liquor

Only a small percentage of ‘punters’ go to the races or to the pub to watch them. So what’s the offpremise Spring Racing Carnival opportunity, asks ShopAbility, for National Liquor News.

In a country where blokes parked on the couch watching sport – footy finals, boxing day test, test cricket et al – is virtually a national pastime, is surprises me that this behaviour doesn’t seem to extend to watching horse racing on TV outside of the Melbourne Cup.

Some occasions are off premise and retail driven, such as Christmas and Easter. Others are onpremise driven (such as football, which is a chance – or excuse – for guys to catch up in the pub over a beer or three).

Interestingly, horse racing as an occasion appears to be on-course (rather than onpremise or offpremise/retail) driven – and more about the women than the men, from what I can see (unless you’re a serious punter who rarely looks up from his form guide). I pity the guys, who have to get trussed up in suits (often against their will) and deal with a lot of primping and preening girls in hats, bubbly in hand, chattering about their dresses. It’s understandable that the guys’ form of escape is getting trashed as quickly as possible.

But there are only so many race courses, and so many people that fit in them or are interested in doing so. And aside from Melbourne Cup most people don’t go to the onpremise to watch horse races – horse racing doesn’t seem to the be the same level of ‘get together’ excuse (particularly for guys, unless they’re regular TAB punters) that the football is.

So how do you get people not actually on the race course involved, and join in the racing ‘carnival’? How do you leverage blokes’ natural sports couch potato behaviour?


‘Tailgating’ is huge for football in the US, where traditionally the ute’s tailgate was dropped and a barbecue held out of the back of the car at or near the football stadium. Over time, tailgating has come to mean any bbq held at home (as well as near the stadium) used as an opportunity to watch the football game and celebrate or commiserate the result. And the tailgate bbqs are co-ed, not just for guys.

Obviously there’s an opportunity to replicate this for the various football codes here, but also for racing – not just Melbourne Cup day but Derby Day, Caulfield Cup Day, Cox Plate Day. The point is that it’s about all the races on the day, not just the major race which may only last 3 minutes.

Racing related bbqs provide opportunities for the girls to dress up a bit and catch up for a gossip (like they do at the pub) but the guys to stay casual, and for party bundle packs that include sparkling, a range of beers, some cocktail premixes and snacks.

However, creating a new occasion requires work and promotion across a number of touchpoints, not just in the store. In an ideal world one of the major liquor brands would actively promote these types of at home racing related occasions – both above the line and supported with instore activation – to underscore the synonymity of their brand with racing. This could work for either a sparkling wine brand, a domestic craft/premium beer or imported beer brand, or possibly a cocktail spirit base such as a vodka brand.



Going to the races is synonymous with dressing up. Anecdotally though, whilst girls love the opportunity to get dressed up, most (straight) blokes do it under sufferance.

However the ‘dressing up’ can be translated to what they are drinking, a chance to ‘upgrade your beer’ in the way that McDonald’s promote the Angus burger as being ‘a little bit fancy’.

This is an opportunity for a premium or imported beer brand to promote themselves as the beer that blokes drink while watching the races, tied into the ‘watch the race at home (with your mates)’ occasion. The benefit for blokes is ‘the excitement of the races at home, without the hassle’.

Retailers have an opportunity to promote the ‘watch the race and be a little bit fancy at home’ occasion instore with displays and catalogue deals including import/craft beer pick’n’mix offers and 6 pack bundles.

Again this will take time as it’s an occasion that needs to be created, rather than leveraging an existing one. However it’s based on behaviour they’re already doing with other sports, so it’s not that much of a stretch.



Depending on store location, and Melbourne Cup being a weekday (where Derby Day, Cox Plate etc are weekends) there is an opportunity to put bundles together for office Melbourne Cup lunches. These could include everything from sparkling, beer and cocktail premixes through to glassware and a pickup/delivery service.

They are all opportunities that will take time to grow, but they are still valid opportunities.