MA Leaders club

Consumers want honesty from operators about rising costs

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Event details: the MA Leaders Club conference took place at Komedia in Brighton on Thursday 15 September
Event details: the MA Leaders Club conference took place at Komedia in Brighton on Thursday 15 September

Related tags MA Leaders Multi-site pub operators Pubco + head office Tenanted + leased Brighton

Some 20% of consumers felt strongly that venue owners should be open and honest about rising costs to soften the blow and extend consumers’ understanding of the challenges the sector is facing, a survey has found.

At The Morning Advertiser​’s MA Leaders Club conference in Brighton last week (Thursday 15 September), PR and digital agency Richmond & Towers consulting director Simon Mowbray laid out the latest insights in consumer research.

He outlined as part of the company’s regular polling of consumers, it asked more than 2,000 UK adults a number of questions referring to the on-trade at this time.

This included how often people are currently frequenting different types of on-trade establishments, how much they're spending and how they envisage the current cost of living crisis is going to affect their purchasing behaviour going forward.

He revealed insight into how often people claim to be visiting venues with those who often frequent going to their local pub 3.21 times a month and spending £26.73 on average.

For city pubs and bars, the average visit number was 2.87 and spend was £31.38 whereas for restaurants, the on-trade visits were lower at 2.5 but spend was higher at £39.06.

Nightclubs saw a higher number of on-trade visits than city venues and restaurants but lower than local pubs at 3.06 however, they had the highest average spend per visit at £39.10.

“If we take a deeper dive, then we obviously begin to see some variations by age, gender, and location,” Mowbray said.

“For example, our findings show the average male adults, will pay his local per visit on average once a week while female adults tend to visit their local once a fortnight.”

Furthermore, Mowbray highlighted how consumers are being hit with headlines in the mainstream media about the crisis.

Feeling the pinch

He added: “It's really against this background of daily news that consumers are bound to start feeling a little bit jittery. They're certainly beginning to feel the pinch anyway.”

In the survey, more than half of respondents were being pragmatic about the impact rising prices were going to have on a night out.

Mowbray said: “Almost one in three are resigned to the fact that they have to increase their spend on socialising by at least 10% and seemingly irrespective on affordability.

“A further one in four are either planning to keep their budget for socialising and nights out at the same level as it is currently or increase it slightly.

“However, almost half of our poll are planning to reduce their spending and many are going to do so significantly.”

He went on to outline how the poll showed the overall impact on consumer confidence suggested a 6.9% reduction in all trades from on-trade spend overall.

Mowbray added: “With only the youngest adults, in our sample group, those aged up to 24, levelling out as the group actually planning to increase their spend, which could actually go up by 6.2%.

“However not enough to offset potential downfall for the reduction in spend from their older counterparts.

“Reasonably the biggest overall spending drop, at least according to our poll is likely to come in the southwest, followed by the East Midlands and then Yorkshire and Humber. Consumers in Greater London, Northern Ireland, the north east, meanwhile, are currently feeling a little more resilient, at least when it comes to going out.”

More optimistically, he showcased the reports results of one in seven people claimed they were planning to visit their local at the same rate, as they always have and they will try to spend the same amount of money, irrespective of the squeeze on the living costs.

Personal recommendations

Mowbray said: “One in 10 are planning to visit at the same rates as they do currently and they accept that they're going to have to spend more money for the privilege.

“One in five think it's fair and understandable local pubs are going to have to raise prices to make ends meet. One in three are ultimately planning for the time being at least reduced the number of times they visit local.”

When it came to advice on how operators can try to stem the tide in encouraging consumers to visit the sector, Mowbray outlined other insights including more than 40% of consumers still rely on word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family as inspiration for visiting the venue themselves.

Similarly, recommendations from friends and family on social media were a draw for one in three.

He said: “Using the tools at your disposal to draw in a wide range of customers and get those recommendations going is clearly likely to pay dividends.

“SEO consumer review portals such as Trustpilot, TripAdvisor, Money Saving Vouchers and media reviews all have a role to play to according to our poll, as does engaging venue generated content on social media.

“It's also likely that all of these are interwoven, but by following the insights, we at least begin to form the basis of a stakeholder and media strategy that could pay biggest dividend on investment.”

In addition, the report also looking at what else venues might be able to do to entice customers through the doors over the coming year.

“Special offers, incentives and loyalty bonuses clearly provide attractive options for those venues looking to entice footfall and spend, although I’ll obviously defer to you here today, regarding the validity and wider implications of such policies,” Mowbray added.

“Enhanced service and choice would appear to be a good way to attract one in eight consumers who say this could entice them into a venue.”

Related topics MA Leaders Club

Related news

Show more