New Star Wars film ‘kept people out of the pub’ at Christmas

By Nicholas Robinson

- Last updated on GMT

Sell up: Upgrade customers to Champagne over Christmas for a better experience
Sell up: Upgrade customers to Champagne over Christmas for a better experience

Related tags: Alcoholic beverage

Stormy weather, Christmas markets and the new Star Wars film kept punters out of the pub last Christmas, according to Pernod Ricard’s UK (PRUK) on-trade channel director Ian Peart. But those who made it to the bar did spend more.

Just 69% of adults asked by CGA Strategy visited an on-trade outlet over the 2015 festive period – down on last year – and 9% of those asked said they visited the pub fewer times than in 2014.

“Last Christmas was quite challenging for the on-trade,” Peart told The Morning Advertiser. ​“We had those really bad storms in December, 31% of all adults asked said they went to a Christmas market, and the new Star Wars​ film, released the weekend before Christmas, kept a lot of people out of the pub.”

However, on the bright side, those who did make it to a pub or bar spent more, a trend that’s been rising year-on-year for some time now, he added.

“When people go out they are spending 30% more on each visit than they did the previous year,” the on-trade boss told The MA.

“The on-trade grew its value sales by 2.9%. Although it looks like good news, it’s still a competitive landscape over the Christmas period.”

In a bid to understand the types of moment customers use an excuse to visit the pub over Christmas, and to help pubs earn more from them, PRUK carried out research.

The six moments are:

  1. My after-Christmas dinner moment
  2. My Christmas cocktail moment
  3. My Christmas work party moment
  4. My Christmas catch-up with the girls
  5. My Christmas big night out with the lads
  6. My Christmas shopping moment

For each of the moments, PRUK has suggested ways pubs can boost footfall and maximise sales.

The first moment is about inspiring and pushing digestifs, such as Cognacs, onto customers at the end of their meals.

Second, bars should signpost hero cocktails and premium brands used in them for the Christmas cocktail moment.

“When consumers do go out over Christmas they are open to trying new things and they are seeking cocktails and also seeking festive cocktails and I think it’s a big opportunity for lots of outlets to put on a very simple festive cocktail menu,” explained Peart.

During a ‘Christmas party moment’, customers should be encouraged to upgrade their prosescco or sparkling wine to a Champagne, he added. Not only will customers feel they’re drinking something extra special, it’s also an upsell for pubs.

As Christmas will fall on a Sunday this year, the Friday before the big day is expected to be rife with revellers and many are likely to fit into the ‘my Christmas catch-up with the girls’ and the ‘my Christmas night out with the lads’ moments, according to Peart.

Two key things

Two key things to remember for these two moments, he explained, is that women will go for branded wines and men will drink more spirits and dark spirits as their night progresses.

Finally, for pubs on the lookout for customers indulging in a ‘my Christmas shopping moment’ Peart said: “There are people going out in the early part of December, having to go around buying their Christmas presents.

“Outlets on the high street should offer respite for customers, so offer hot alcoholic drinks. We’ve had success with Malibu and hot chocolate.”

Meanwhile, PRUK will be showcasing the latest rum trends at the Future Trends: Spirits Summit study tour on 3 October in London.

Headline partners at the event include Diageo and Schweppes, while PRUK and the Wine and Spirits Education Trust are the event’s associate partners.

Bar partners include City of London Distillery, Masons, Slingsby and Warner Edwards.

Find out more and book your ticket by visiting www.spiritssummit.co.uk​ or by contacting Joanne Horton on 01293 610 403 or by email at Joanne.Horton@wrbm.com​.

Related topics: Spirits & Cocktails, Wine

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