Top 10 tips: Getting your drinks offer right for the summer

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Summer, Alcoholic beverage, Drink

Summer fizz: Champagne is light and stylish, making it perfect for warm weather
Summer fizz: Champagne is light and stylish, making it perfect for warm weather
Weather conditions on these shores are erratic at the best of times, but this year it’s more unpredictable than ever. March, which was officially the third warmest on record, was quickly replaced by April’s seemingly endless showers. One can only guess what May will bring.

However good or bad this summer might turn out to be, there’s bound to be some warm weather somewhere along the way, so pubs must be prepared. Here’s our 10-point plan to making sure you have the right drinks offer when the sun eventually comes out.

1 Be flexible

The difficulty for publicans is balancing the changeable nature of British weather with a range of drinks that meets consumer demand for a taste of summer in a glass, says Vicky Lee, trading and marketing controller at Continental Wine & Food.

“The solution is to ensure you have a range that is flexible and includes products that can be used as either mixers or as a base for cocktails. This way, any left-over stock from a summer season affected by poor weather can still be used in the run-up to the festive season,” Lee adds.
 
2 Encourage customers to trade up

The theory that cash-strapped people still like to indulge in smaller, less costly luxuries — otherwise known as ‘the lipstick effect’ — is set to hold sway again this summer.

“It’s when people, who may forego large expenditure such as a holiday or a new car, still splash out on smaller, more affordable luxuries,” says Lee James, channel director for wine at Pernod Ricard UK.

Champagnes such as GH Mumm Rosé and Perrier-Jouët’s Blason Rosé are ideal to capitalise on this trend, claims Lee. “Nearly 10% of all Champagne imported into the UK is now rosé. Offering Champagne by the glass, whether rosé, standard white non-vintage, or both, auto-matically sets a stylish scene — and again, encourages customers to trade up,” he adds.

3 Create mixers

If consumers haven’t made their drinks decision by the time they get to the bar, it’s assumed that they default to wine or beer.

Eileen Livingston, Maxxium UK’s marketing controller for Courvoisier and imported whiskeys, believes publicans can use this knowledge to encourage customers to choose a higher-margin summer drink instead, such as a spirit and refreshing premium mixer.

“As well as boosting profits, this will ensure customers feel like they have received a good service, increasing the likelihood of repeat visits,” says Livingston.

“Courvoisier is ideal for publicans to keep on their back bar this summer because the complexity of its flavours means it’s possible to make a selection of summer drinks with just one spirit. After all, Courvoisier is a refreshing long drink served with lemonade and also works well with cranberry and apple juice, all served in a tall, ice-filled glass.”

These ingredients are inexpensive, claims Livingston, but consumers will be willing to pay more for them as a mixed drink.

Brands once overlooked as inappropriate in the summer are also now getting a ‘long drink’ makeover. Harveys Bristol Cream, for instance, is heading down the summer drinks recipe route.

“Through our Harveys Half Hour campaign, we are promoting a refreshing summer serve — Harveys Bristol Cream poured over ice with a slice of orange,” says Maxxium UK senior brand manager Jane Wilson.

“The simple combination perfectly complements the dried fruit and toasted almond flavours of the sherry. Simple to create, licensees will be able to offer their customers something really new, exciting and refreshing in a category that has been lacklustre for some time.”

4 Promote pitchers

For mainstream outlets that attract the 18 to 24-year-old student and young professional crowd, offering easy-to-create pitcher and fishbowl share serves this summer is key to driving volume sales, says Global Brands marketing director Simon Green. Making a serve as eye-catching as possible can often draw attention from other drinkers.

Green adds: “VK and Reef as base ingredients in pitcher serves look bright, appeal to consumers who want refreshing fruit-flavoured cocktails and, most importantly, they are margin enhancing.”

For many customers, Pimm’s is seen as the quintessential British summer drink. Last summer, Pimm’s enjoyed huge success in pubs, with 59% of the brand’s sales over the period coming from the on-trade, says Kate Yateman-Smith, brand manager for Pimm’s on-trade at Diageo GB.

“The perfect serve is one part Pimm’s and three parts lemonade, with ice, orange, cucumber, strawberries and mint, which makes it ideal for the summer months,” she adds.

Publicans should also seriously consider serving Courvoisier mixed drinks in a large pitcher, which — according to Maxxium UK’s Livingston — is a great summer serve.

“Try mixing Courvoisier VS with some ginger beer, apple juice and freshly-squeezed lime juice, served in a large pitcher with ice-filled glasses,” she suggests.

5 Broaden your spirits offer

Last month, Hi-Spirits brought to market its new long drink and cocktail serves for the company’s three core brands — Antica, Buffalo Trace and Fireball.

“There is a wider range of customers for spirits than ever,” says Hi-Spirits chairman Jeremy Hill.

He claims that Antica Sambuca is popular on big nights out, Buffalo Trace appeals to affluent 25 to 40-year-old consumers, while Fireball has a strong student following.

Hill adds: “There is, however, significant crossover for all three brands, and in summer in particular, on-trade customers have a wider drinks repertoire. In other words, if you have one of the brands, we advise you to stock up on the other two so you can offer the best selection of drinks possible.”

6 Buy in some pre-made cocktail mixers

But what if your pub doesn’t have the time or space available to offer a big summer drinks range?

Well, one alternative could be Funkin cocktail mixers. “Our mixers are ideal for outlets that don’t normally serve cocktails, as they are simple and easy to serve and produce quality cocktails. All they require is the addition of ice and a spirit and take approximately 10 seconds to serve,” says Funkin chief executive Andrew King.

The company now offers a larger pack format that allows for increased speed of serve and, according to King, even greater profit margins.

The brand’s one-litre range enables bartenders and licensees to capitalise fully on the potential of the pitcher cocktail.
King adds: “Each pack can make up to 10 cocktails or three pitchers.”

7 Capitalise on cider

Cider, of course, remains very much a summer drink and there is a growing demand for flavoured cider, with the combined fruit and pear cider segments of the market up 22% in the modern ciders category, according to ACNielsen’s ScanTrack (December 2011). To meet this growing demand, the limited-edition Henry Westons Raspberry Twist is being rolled out this spring.

“As a serving suggestion we recommend that publicans offer the Raspberry Twist in a two-thirds pint jug with fresh fruit and mint, targeting Pimm’s drinkers with an exciting alternative,” says Westons Cider managing director Helen Thomas.

8 Look at lighter ales

And what of summer beer? At 4.1% ABV, Old Golden Hen is a lighter option than premium ale Old Speckled Hen.

Old Golden Hen has been carefully crafted to appeal to younger premium lager drinkers looking for more taste, as well as existing ale drinkers, says Euan Venters, managing director at Greene King Brewing & Brands.

“Brewed using the finest pale malts and the rare Tasmanian Galaxy hop, Old Golden Hen has a light golden colour, tropical fruit notes and a refreshing and smooth finish, making it the ideal choice for alfresco drinking,” he adds.

“Supported in pubs with branded bar runners, glassware and drip mats, Old Golden Hen has proved increasingly popular with publicans since its arrival last year.”

9 Aim for non-alcoholic alternatives

Summer drinks, of course, needn’t be alcoholic at all — there are soft alternatives targeted at adults looking for something premium, but not compromising on that ‘summer at the pub’ vibe.

“When it comes to summer drinking, the Bottlegreen pressé range is the perfect choice for consumers looking for something special and refreshing during the warmer weather,” says Simon Speers, managing director at Bottlegreen Drinks.

“The sparkling pressés are available in a range of flavours, including Bottlegreen’s iconic elderflower, ginger & lemongrass variety and, the ultimate choice for sunnier weather, pomegranate & elderflower.”

Speers says the suggested serve is to pour Bottlegreen pressés over ice in a wine glass, so that consumers still know they are receiving a great-looking summer drink.

“Alongside Bottlegreen’s pressés, the cordial range — which includes the recently launched lime & coconut flavour — is also the perfect ingredient when it comes to creating summer cocktails,” he says.

10 Make the most of brand support

Last, but not least, the best advice for maximising your summer profit is to work closely with suppliers. Ask them to offer you as much support as they can to help boost sales and alert customers about your drinks range.

“Pimm’s in the on-trade is a highly impulsive brand, so its visibility is key to ensuring its success. To help outlets maximise visibility and boost sales, Diageo is giving outlets PoS materials to be displayed from the start of the season,” says Diageo GB’s Yateman-Smith.

In addition to this, the ‘Pimm’s O’Clock Brigade’ — a team of British characters in traditional summertime costumes — will travel to a number of pubs and bars on novel modes of transport, including a branded canal barge for waterside pubs and a motorbike and sidecar for city-centre venues.

Once at the venue, which will be decked out with traditional PoS, such as bunting, posters and branded jugs, the team will be responsible for ensuring that everybody knows when it is ‘Pimm’s O’Clock’, and offer free product sampling.

The brand will also engage its online followers, including more than 150,000 Facebook fans, with the Pimm’s O’Clock Facebook page,” adds Yateman-Smith.

“This will enable Pimm’s consumers to organise a Pimm’s party for their friends in a local outlet, or vote for the pub that offers their favourite Pimm’s serve or experience, in the Pub of the Week competition.”

Everything Diageo is doing with Pimm’s this forthcoming summer is geared towards helping pubs appeal to their clientele and get them in the holiday mood.

Miller Brands is also looking to support its customers this summer. The Pilsner Urquell and Peroni owner aims to help pubs realise the potential of forthcoming events while making the most of the world-beers trend.

“Our Caddy Bars — tactical draught bars positioned away from the main bar or outside key outlets — will relieve the pressure at the main bar during busy times,” says Lucy Jordan, director of customer marketing at Miller Brands.

So there’s plenty of support over the coming months. Let’s just hope the weather is on our side.

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