Ten young people have completed their 12 month investigation into what pubs should do to attract millennials and ensure pubs remain a focal point of the community.
The group – selected via a nationwide campaign launched by Marston’s in the Sun newspaper – presented to the pubco's board last week on topics including food, drinks, design & environment, entertainment & events, marketing & communications and technology.
Marston’s chairman Roger Devlin launched the initiative after noticing the declining numbers of young customers. The company is now evaluating how it can incorporate the best of the recommendations into its pubs.
Pete Dalzell, Marston’s Inns & Taverns managing director, said: “The presentation was very thought provoking and it’s important that we now take action and make some of the ideas come to life. This isn’t the end of the project for us – we have to take risks and be innovative. The team will be part of the consultations for the next phase of the project, so they’ll be very much involved in shaping our Pub of the Future.”
The team of 10 was chosen to bring insight into what millennials thought of different aspects of pubs and how they could be improved to get more customers through the door.
The young panel included people who regularly visit pubs as well as those who rarely or never did to get a spectrum of views. They highlighted a snapshot of what people love about pubs as well what needs improving to capture people’s attention and discretionary spend. This included a vastly improved food offering and a broader drinks selection.
Nicola Henney, 22, from Atherstone said: “The restrictive nature of pubs normally puts me off – I normally frequent cocktail bars because of their ability to suggest things I might like and they serve me my drink exactly the way I like it. In pubs, drinks are often limited in selection and sub-standard – we are looking for that wow factor.”
Kayleigh McFarland, 19, from Stratford-Upon-Avon, said: “All pubs seem pretty similar and the traditional food served doesn’t appeal to me – I’m a foodie and I want something that I can’t get at home, I can get a Sunday roast anywhere. Interiors really need an overhaul – light and airy is definitely the way forward.”
Emily McLachlan, 23, from Wolverhampton, feels pubs do not suit the lifestyles of young people today – she said they need more creativity: “Offering contemporary food and drinks, with the addition of relevant technology into the pub will entice and engage a younger customer.”
The use of enabling technology to reduce waiting times and make the whole experience more enjoyable was a recurring theme.
Head of customer insight for Marston’s Inns & Taverns, Louise Fleming said: “It’s crucial that we evolve our offer to reflect the changing needs of consumers; through this project we are working some way toward pubs becoming an integral part of the social repertoire for the next generation.”