According to Heineken’s Pub of the Future report, operators emerging from more than a year of on again, off again trade are now faced with the challenge of tailoring their approach to consumers’ changing behaviours and expectations.
After a year of virtual gigs, Zoom quizzes and online beer tastings, Heineken’s head of IDDC on-trade, Matt Rix, highlights gaming and gamification as key on-trade opportunities.
“For as long as there have been pubs, people have played games in them,” he explains. “Concepts such as Flight Club have blended digital technology into traditional games to enhance the experience and appeal to new consumers.
“After social media, games are the most popular use for mobile phones,” he adds. “We’ve previously worked with large managed pub chains to create games for their apps and found them to be an effective vehicle for driving positive consumer behaviour change.
“As the penetration of on-trade apps grows into the independent free trade channel, we want to bring these same ideas to a broader audience by working with pubs to create gamified promotions that help them drive their business objectives.”
Interaction between physical and virtual spaces
As such, Heineken forecasts that the next decade will see pubs and bars level up when it comes to offering unique gaming experiences – with innovations stretching from online entertainment, the rise of the games night and operators upping their game when it comes to Esports.
“Pubs are in a unique position to capitalise on the growing trend of gaming and esports,” Adam Whyte, founder and CEO of esports and influencer marketing agency Edge, says.
“Firstly, the pub is a natural broadcast hub with big screens, projectors and sounds systems. Combining that with the fact esports are free to stream, unlike traditional sports broadcast packages, this is a lucrative risk-free opportunity.
What’s more, Murdo MacLeod of pop-up bar and events company Zest Mixology adds that being forced to operate as a virtual, interactive entertainment venue has seen customers connect in a fun and creative way.
“The response to our new offering has been phenomenal – by adapting our ways of working we were able to appeal to a much wider audience than before, due to the inclusive nature of the set up,” he explains.
“The numbers of attendees to our virtual venue are growing every week, and it’s clear how digital innovations such as ours will work to continue bringing people together for work, school and social events, even when the pandemic is over.
“Society is starting to explore the way physical and virtual spaces can interact,” MacLeod adds, “with the entertainment and hospitality industries already evolving to encompass virtual and interactive innovations.
“Consumers love engaging with the latest digital trends, such as ‘gamification’, so we can expect to see more of this in a bricks and mortar setting moving forwards.”
- Download Heineken’s future-gazing Pub of the Future report here to find out more about the trends shaping the industry, and how they’re likely to influence the Great British pub.