CHRISTMAS 2011 was a landmark for the Coca-Cola Designated Driver programme, with 1000 pubs and bars across Scotland taking part in the initiative over the festive season.
Scottish minister transport minister Keith Brown attended the official launch at The Albanach pub in Edinburgh on December 14.
The scheme, part of an ongoing initiative with the Department for Transport’s (DfT) Driver Friendly campaign, has been developed to help licensees give customers an incentive to select a designated driver for their journey home with a ‘buy one, get one free’ on Coca-Cola and Diet Coke.
With research showing that 61% of adults planned to visit a pub or bar during the festive season, and almost a third of Scottish adults planned to give up alcohol on a night out last year to ensure friends and family get home safely, Designated Driver offers a great opportunity for operators to increase customer footfall and dwell time.
Looking ahead to the new year, January is a good time to reflect on how Scottish licensees can maintain momentum, and ensure they maximise sales and drive profitability.
In this regard, licensees shouldn’t overlook the potential revenue soft drinks offer to their pub.
Soft drinks, worth £360m in on-premise sales in Scotland, is now the third largest category in the on-trade after food and alcohol and should be a major focus for licensees looking to find ways to increase sales and help keep customers coming back.
In an increasingly competitive market, pubs must strive to offer a better experience than people can have at home and that extends to soft drinks.
Ensuring this better quality experience is simple to implement by addressing the common consumer perceptions of soft drinks in pubs, which focus around a limited choice, poor product visibility and inadequate serves, ultimately representing poor value for money and without the theatre that is so important in the out of home environment.
Having a good choice of soft drinks will encourage customers to buy more across the range, and there is a need to make that range visible to customers. With a growing focus on food, menu visibility is key for soft drinks as they maintain the highest incidence with food of any drinks category.
In an increasingly competitive market, pubs must offer a better experience than people have at home.
Finally, quality of serve is also vital: as much time and effort should be put into creating the soft drink serve as pouring the perfect pint.
Like many things, serving a ‘perfect soft drink’, for example a Coke in a branded Georgia green glass with ice and lemon, is a simple gesture that is reassuring to the customer, but there is still much inconsistency in the market place.
To increase the number of customers buying a second and third drink we have to get the first one right.
Lastly, Happy New Year to you all! We look forward to working with pubs across Scotland in the year ahead.