That’s the message from drinks firms, who say operators who offer a strong range of long drinks stand to benefit in a summer that lacks the big sporting events of 2012.
“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,” said Andrew Leat, on-trade category manager at Diageo.
“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.”
First Drinks’ head of category management, Roy Summers, agreed that spirits tend to be a strong performer in the on-trade during the summer months.
“Long drinks are always popular in the summer; people will be looking for something refreshing so it is important to stock versatile spirits that can be mixed,” he said.
“The treat spending trend will be even more crucial this year with the lack of calendar activity and sporting events,” he said. “Licensees should ensure their bar is well stocked across all price points with a strong premium offering but must not forget that service also plays a very important role.
“Although consumers are happy to trade-up they will expect added value in other areas so a warm welcome and attentive, knowledgeable staff are a must.”
Julie Ingham of Continental Wine and Food agreed that offering a range of drinks which caters for different tastes is key during summer.
However, it can also bring advantages later in the year, she said.
“Licensees should aim to build a range of drinks that offers flexibility, particularly those that can be used as either mixers or as a base for cocktails,” said Ingham.
“Thus any leftover stock from a summer season affected by poor weather can be used creatively in the run up to the festive season.”
Stocking the right drinks for summer isn’t the whole battle, according to Jim Grierson, on-trade sales director at Maxxium.
Promotion is also crucial.
“When bringing in innovative new brands, it is important to make sure they are clearly visible on the back-bar to encourage customers to try them and, where possible, always make sure staff highlight the fact that there are new things to try,” said Grierson.
“Menus provide visibility and well-trained staff can share their passion and knowledge, providing consumer education and driving brand awareness.”
Creating the right environment for summer trade can also have a positive effect on footfall and sales. There may not be much in the way of sports but the weather itself can be an occasion for pubs with beer gardens, according to Darryl Hinksman, head of on-trade customer marketing at Heineken.
“The warm weather also sees a rise in the number of consumers enjoying al fresco drinking and dining and this is another great way to maximise your bar offering during the summer,” he said.
“If your outlet has a garden make sure this is ready for summer by ensuring it is clean and looks inviting.
“Ensuring there is sufficient space and that an outdoor area is tidy will encourage people into your venue and is a great chance to drive footfall.
“If your establishment serves food, try pairing dishes with beer or cider, for example offering a drink alongside a meal.”
Image – Long drinks should prove popular with pub customers this summer, say spirits firms, but it is vital publicans promote their drinks menus.