Drinks firms have told SLTN that the venues with a summer drinks list which offers a point of difference – and which is highlighted to customers – will reap the rewards.
Andrew King, chief executive of Funkin, the puree, syrup and cocktail mixer brand, said consumers are increasingly looking for something new when they are out in the on-trade.
“We know it’s difficult enough to get consumers from their homes out into the on-trade, and that experience has to be a great one for them to keep coming back,” said King.
“Newness and exciting innovation are really important. Also, they look to change their repertoire through the seasons and they need to see that reflected in the drinks offering.”
Summer cocktails can prove popular with consumers, said King, but a lot depends on how the drinks are prepared and presented.
Theatre, in terms of the drinks and the dressing of the back-bar itself, is important. But it is also vital that a summer drinks list is properly communicated to customers.
“One thing that’s clear whenever one goes into the on-trade, is that people will choose their default purchase if there’s not great signage,” he said.
“So signs, whether that be table talkers, menus or blackboards, to announce different drinks, are really important.”
Paul Condron, marketing director at Tennent Caledonian, also stressed the importance of a high visibility drinks list, saying that “with the right investment, the summer months provide a good opportunity to engage with drinkers and deliver a great brand and in-outlet experience”.
Point of sale kits account for a significant part of the summer marketing activity from parent company C&C Group, which also owns cider brand Magners.
“The available kit is flexible, with options for bar, dining and outdoor areas that promote a sense of shared summer moments and will work well for our customers,” said Condron.
“This includes everything from bottle glorifiers and chalkboards at the bar to lounge items such as cushions and tea lights, plus great options for beer gardens such as barbecues and even giant Jenga.”
As well as visual marketing materials, operators should ensure staff are trained to highlight any new brands or serves, said Jim Grierson, on-trade sales director at Maxxium UK, which distributes brands such as Sourz, The Famous Grouse and Jim Beam.
“Knowledge is power when it comes to selling premium spirits,” said Grierson.
People will choose their default purchase if other options are not visible to them.
“Ensuring that staff understand production, taste and the key features of a brand are extremely important as it allows them to engage with customers at the bar. To attract and retain customers, as well as improve sales, establishments should be investing heavily in staff education.”
Grierson added that a summer drinks list should feature a selection of long mixed drinks and pitchers.
Maxxium isn’t the only drinks company extolling the virtues of pitchers this summer.
According to Andrew Leat, on-trade category manager at Diageo GB, ‘sharing drinks’ represent a considerable sales opportunity for operators.
“The most profitable drinks segment for operators is spirit with mixers and there is a higher average spend on spirit with mixer drinks in the summer, compared to the rest of the year,” he said.
“Therefore combining the two and offering consumers inspirational drinks menus using their favourite spirits to share outside in a relaxed environment, will enhance consumers’ summer experiences and drive incremental sales for outlets.”
Leat also stressed the importance of the ‘perfect serve’.
Quoting figures from research company TNS, he said 78% of consumers consider presentation to make the perfect drink. It’s an area Diageo aims to tackle this summer through its perfect serve ‘toolkits’, which are being distributed across the on-trade.
It’s not all about spirits in the summer months, though.
An increase in al fresco dining creates new opportunities for food matching, according to Graham Archibald, national account director at beer and wine importer Morgenrot.
“The key is looking at their whole offering and seeing how they can introduce food, drinks and events that offer a point of difference and generate excitement,” he said. “BBQs are obviously a great way to drive sales, but a unique summer drinks list, events such as beer and food days and beer clubs, plus the wider food offering can all be used to great effect.”
Image – Summer drinks, such as cocktails, need to be promoted in outlets in order to maximise sales.