Sell More, Save More 3 Beer & Cider: Take five for success

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As the beer champion in Sell More, Save More this year, Heineken UK is proud to be sharing its in-depth knowledge and understanding of the category...

As the beer champion in Sell More, Save More this year, Heineken UK is proud to be sharing its in-depth knowledge and understanding of the category and key insights from the wider on-trade market to help licensees tap into the latest consumer trends and drive incremental value to their businesses.

Its research shows there are five areas of focus that can help publicans make a step change in their growth of this most difficult of categories in 2009.

These 'levers' to change will form the framework for the advice it will offer our three participating pubs Woody's bar in North London, the Stanley Arms in Portslade, near Brighton, and the Wheel Inn at Pennington, Hampshire - and the wider readership of The Publican, in the coming months.

They are:

1. Range. Ensuring licensees provide the right range of beers - relevant to their outlet type and chosen to meet the needs of their consumer base

2. Merchandising. Using targeted point of sale and marketing materials

3. Pricing. Ensuring pricing is appropriately structured along a ladder system and, relevant to their retail offer

4. Promotions. Leading with responsible promotions that offer consumers compelling reasons to visit the pub more often - designed to increase overall footfall rather than short term brand switching or price-led deals

5. Staff. Employing staff as 'bar ambassadors' - up selling where appropriate.

Maximising profits at the Stanley

Licensee Steve Bennett met recently with Heineken UK customer marketing manager Paul Graham and on-trade operations manager Susie Matthews to discuss how Heineken UK's category approach could help build his business at the pub.

Steve and his wife Barbara have built a great real ale house offering a cosy environment in a contemporary setting.

Their key challenge now is to maximise their profit opportunity and encourage new consumers into the outlet - and Paul and Susie felt that the key opportunity lay with cider. Heineken UK research shows that premium cider drinkers share the same demographic as cask ale drinkers: introducing a premium draught cider will provide the couple with a clear opportunity to cross sell to a high-margin category.

The pub has a limited lager range and Steve insists he does not want to increase the number of brands currently stocked - although the Heineken pair felt that the Stanley would benefit from installing a faster moving premium lager in place of its current premium brand.

The current premium lager offer is underperforming and does not justify its place on the bar when considered against bigger brands which consistently offer a substantially higher rate of sale.

Fundamentally, cask ale is the pub's unique selling point, with a rotation of over 1,000 ales a year. Heineken's recommendation is to continue with this - but to work on widening consumer awareness of the exceptional range of cask ales on offer.

Maximising the pub's wet offering through merchandising, promotions and staff engagement will be a key focus for the Heineken experts in the months ahead.

Rationalising the range at Woody's

The danger of making the bar 'all things to all people' was identified as one of the key challenges facing Woody's bar by Paul and Susie on a recent visit.

They felt that licensee Natalie Coleshill's many ideas and the multitude of events she lays on at the pub could ultimately lead to a lack of consumer awareness and understanding of what her retail offer actually is.

"Natalie's beer range seems more suited to a traditional community pub than to a unique high-street bar with a unique consumer offering and a more targeted approach is called for here," comments Paul.

"Natalie should rationalise her draught beer range to eliminate duplication within the category, which would allow her to introduce a wider selection of premium world beers to the fridge to provide consumers with variation and choice."

Paul felt that the two standard keg ales on tap appealed directly to the same target consumer, and should be reduced to just one brand.

"The rule of thumb here is remove the brand selling less than one 11g keg per week," he advises. Paul also suggested that a premium sessionable brand would bridge the gap in her lagers range, with 'entry-level premium' lagers an emerging category experiencing strong growth as consumers increasingly demand premium brands with a lower ABV.

Natalie was also advised to consider whether a range of 'mini' cask ale brands - bar-top based and not requiring the usual cellar racking - were really paying their way as they do not seem a natural fit with the outlet's style, retail offer and customer base.

"Natalie has an opportunity to substantially increase her consumer base by focusing her efforts on a structured marketing plan," adds Paul.

"Although she has a number of events running in the bar over the course of a week she currently relies solely on word of mouth from existing customers to provide footfall.

"We look forward to working with her to develop a plan that really puts Woody's on the map."

The Wheel Inn, Pennington, Hampshire

Heineken UK customer marketing manager Paul Graham feels that the current draught range at the Good Beer Guide-accredited pub is well-matched to the pub's customer base.

But on a recent visit to see licensees Marie Richards and Pete Walters at the rural pub he identified an urgent need for the pair to increase awareness of their strong retail offer - with the aim of attracting new and lapsed customers to increase turnover. He recommends that they work towards increasing their customer base by highlighting the many reasons consumers have to visit the outlet in two key ways:

• External marketing. More external communication of the pub's great food offer by placing large wall-mounted chalkboards on the external wall by the main door in from the car park, with details of the lunch/dinner menus

• Flyers. Producing these to include a 'call to action' - a meal deal offer, such as 'a pie and a pint for £4.99' - is one thing. Effective targeting is the key to making these work and Heineken recommends flyers or posters are placed in:

- Nearby industrial estates - offering 'quick wins' to increase lunch/early evening visits

- Village shops - posters in the window/flyers inside local paper deliveries

- Hairdressers - ideal opportunity to run a ladies' 'Be pampered at the Pub' day

- Local community centres - always an opportunity to attract the grey pound

- All local hotels - there are 22 hotels/guest houses all located within in a five-mile radius of the New Forest pub - a good way to attract tourist trade.

"The Wheel Inn has great potential and we look forward to working with Marie and Pete to deliver a sound platform for growth that the couple can build on over time," says Paul.

For the full reports from our category champions, visit www.thepublican.com/sellmore

Related topics: Beer, Cider

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