Spirits and cocktail customers’ knowledge of how their drinks should look is at its highest, which affects where they frequent and what they buy, CGA Strategy director of client services Rachel Perryman told delegates at The Morning Advertiser’s Future Trends: Spirits event last week (3 October).
“According to our research, 46% of consumers drink spirits in the on-trade and they will spend 24% more when the quality of the serve is right,” she said.
When drinking spirits out of home, in general, consumers will spend 19% more on drinks than if they were at home, according to Perryman.
“This shows there’s definitely an opportunity for more growth in spirits in the on-trade and that’s about operators creating something that’s more appealing to customers.”
Customers are now looking for premium spirits and cocktails, clear pricing for what they get and the best experience they can afford, the on-trade expert added.
Different spending powers
There is a huge variety of customers with different spending powers and needs when it comes to spirits and cocktails, which means operators had to provide enough choice for consumers.
Trends pubs should look into when developing spirits and cocktail menus with maximum choice include health, food-pairing, premium and things like ‘happy hours’, to drive footfall in premises, Perryman advised.
“More people are thinking about being healthier and consumers, according to our research, see spirits as a healthier alcoholic drink. They want things like fruit cocktails and lower-ABV when they come into an on-trade outlet.”
Restaurants and bars had become very good at offering customers these options and it was time for pubs to get in on the action.
Pubs should grow their spirits range and increase their cocktail repertoire, she said. “Offering a greater range of spirits and activating them in the right way can really help pubs increase sales for a variety of occasions – from meal times to drinks with friends,” she added.
However, too much choice could work against businesses, as research in the US was indicating that having a huge offer confused customers and made them choose entry-level products.
Choices before serving
Too much choice also slowed down bar staff, as customers spent longer looking at their choices before making a decision on what to drink.
The solution was to have a ‘good’, ‘better’ and ‘best’ offer, advised Perryman.
“When you offer too much choice,” she said. “There’s confusion among consumers. There are often more than 50 brands available in many US bars and this is confusing to their customers who will tend to order a standard product.”
This took Perryman on to her next point, which was that simplicity was coming back into fashion.
“Cocktails are getting a bit stuffy and over the top, when they should be fun and accessible. Consumers are more discerning and aware of what they are drinking and even something like the provenance of a drink is enough to make a customer buy into something at the moment.”
The Future Trends: Spirits event was organised by The Morning Advertiser and sponsored by headline partners Diageo and Schweppes; associate partners Pernod Ricard UK and the Wine & Spirit Education Trust; and bar partners Warner Edwards, Masons Yorkshire Gin, Slingsby Artisan Gin, the City of London Distillery and Willis Publicity.