‘The retailers are coming’ – but can pubs survive?

By Nicholas Robinson contact

- Last updated on GMT

Experiential advice: will people flock back to the pub?
Experiential advice: will people flock back to the pub?

Related tags: Chief operating officer, Eating

A new generation of customers could be set to flock to the high street in search of ‘real experiences’, but retailers are stepping up their game and reacting with out-of-the-box ideas, which could outshine pubs.

Pubs were warned to step up their game by John Barton, chief operating officer at delicatessen company Dean & Deluca, at the MA500 conference in Cambridge today (8 February).

“We’re coming onto your patch, we’re moving into your market, so get ahead of us,” he said. “I urge you to get ahead of what people like me and my colleagues are doing in the next five to 10 years.”

The firm, which was founded in New York 40 years ago, now has 56 stores across the world with various experiential elements, including dining and drinking concepts.

Straight from a tree

A new flagship London site offers customers the opportunity to cut their own herbs from growing plants and pick their own fruit straight from a tree, he said.

Driving this thinking is a new generation of consumer, the Centennial, (born between 1996 and 2000) who have grown up eating out and have a palate for good food, said Barton.

“They’ve grown up with their parents taking them out to eat two to three times a week and have a palate, and are looking for an experience,” he explained.

An important part of the experience Centennials look for is relationships with workers, who should not only be a friendly face, but a personality. These things are remembered by customers, said Barton.

“Nice clean stores and friendly staff used to be enough but not now,” he added. “Centennials are spend more money in stores than Millennials and they want an experience to keep them coming back.”

People like doing business with people they like, and exceptional service and experiences are a good way of feeding that, he added.

Hounded by Amazon

Retailers had been hounded by the likes of Amazon, which is good at providing a service, but not an experience.

By doing what your competitors cannot do, you are putting yourself in a position to thrive, said Barton.

“We’re going to encroach on the traditional market, but we’ve got to do that and give the people a service and an experience that they want to come back to,” he added.

“The retailers are coming and you have to get ahead.”

Related topics: MA Leaders Club

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