Festive period the perfect time to make up lost trade, says report
Licensees should be looking to capitalise on Christmas trade by ensuring big brands and point-of-sale material are highly visible, according to a report by Interbrew.
The brewer's Market Report Update predicts the festive period this year will see a significant upturn for the pub trade and represents a chance for many pubs to pull back trade lost through foot-and-mouth, bad weather and the downturn in tourism.
The report argues that the Christmas season for the on-trade is characterised by visits from infrequent pub-goers who are influenced by the product range on display at the bar.
They are also more likely to choose big brand names that they will have heard of even if they are not regular drinkers. Pub-goers generally are becoming more aware of brand image with big brands now accounting for 55 per cent of on-trade business as compared to 51 per cent in 1999.
The report says: "Big brands always show the biggest share of seasonal sales uplifts - and so they deserve to be displayed prominently in on-trade outlets."
Merchandising is one of the most important aspects to consider at Christmas, according to Interbrew's director of sales, Allan Tudor. "Effective merchandising is vitally important because it ensures retailers are maximising the sales potential of the bar area," he said.
"It can have a major influence on the brands that consumers choose. This can encourage more consumers to trade up to premium categories and brands - boosting the value of bar business in the process."
The family nature of the festive season means licensees can target drinks to serve with food. Some beer brands, including Interbrew's own Stella Artois, have introduced large litre bottles to share with a meal.
Wine also remains a category in strong growth, up 12 per cent in the last 12 months according to the Interbrew report, and could be incorporated into special Christmas meal deals or advertised on tables.
The timing of Christmas this year gives most people extra time off work and should ensure more nights at the pub.
Many of these fall into the "big night out" category during which customers will usually choose beer or PPS products, according to Interbrew. The PPS category continues to grow - 64 per cent up in the last 12 months according to the report.
And the report praises brands like Guinness Extra Cold and London brewer Fuller's London Pride for building their presence in the on-trade by concentrating on quality of serve and presentation.
It is this quality, says the report, that can bring infrequent seasonal pub customers back in the new year and can also keep customers in the bar for longer.
Customers have so much choice now, according to Interbrew, that the best way to attract them is to ensure quality throughout the operation including staff, drinks and glasses.
Interbrew predicts the number of speciality beer brands will also continue to grow as the consumer looks for more choice and a point of difference between products.