‘Tis the season to offer choice

Christmas range should include something for everyone

• Group occasions over the festive period give operators the chance to broaden their ranges.
• Group occasions over the festive period give operators the chance to broaden their ranges.

THE Christmas crowd can be a mixed bag.

And as operators prepare to cater for everything from office parties to family get-togethers over the coming weeks, it seems they would do well to bear this potentially varied clientele in mind when it comes to compiling their festive drinks range.
As Debs Carter, marketing director for RTD brand WKD explained, a diverse customer base can bring opportunities for operators with a drinks range to match.
“With a wider diversity of customers coming through the doors during Christmas and New Year to celebrate the festive season with work colleagues, friends and family, pubs could benefit from offering a broader choice of drinks than those normally stocked at other times of the year,” she said.

Look at stripping out duplication of similar products and flavours to provide variety.

“Licensees could look at stripping out duplication of similar products and flavours so that they can provide more variety and choice to satisfy the broadest of drinks repertoires, as well as stimulating consumer interest by offering regular customers something new and different,” added Carter, suggesting that seasonal serves would be an “obvious” place to start.
“They need to be drinks which are easy and quick for bar staff to prepare when the bar is busy, but bringing some theatre and a vibrant atmosphere into the outlet which can’t be replicated at home is just as important,” she added.
Highlighting an increase in group social occasions during the festive period, Simon Green of Global Brands, whose drink portfolio includes RTD brand VK, said operators who can cater for different types of occasion stand to benefit.
He said there are three different group occasions: the ‘Christmas Reward’ – smaller group nights when consumers upgrade to premium products; the ‘Office Party’ – groups willing to spend more on a festive night out, with consumers who are attracted to unusual drinks; and the ‘Group Night Out’ – said to be similar to the office party but on a lower budget, creating a chance to focus on pre-mixed products.
To make the most of these different occasions, Green advised operators to take advantage of “huge growth” in the cocktail category for both single serve and shared serve formats.
“The festive period is a key time for licensees to up-sell on cocktails, liqueurs and RTDs, with consumers’ spend on food, drink and entertainment at double the national average,” said Green.
“When renewing their drinks range, licensees need to understand the different reasons why consumers go out and what they are looking for when they do to benefit from this opportunity.”
It’s not just the firms behind RTD brands that are extolling the virtues of offering a broader drinks range this Christmas.
Packaged ciders are also being promoted as seasonal serves – whether through mixed drinks and cocktails or limited edition fruit variants.
“With flavour innovation not only growing but extending the cider category into the colder months flavour selection is of increasing importance for a retailer,” said Gemma Copping, marketing director for Swedish cider brand Rekorderlig at Chilli Marketing.
“Around the winter months, consumer spending behaviours tend to change as they are presented with a wider variety of seasonal offerings.”
Variety is important, but operators shouldn’t forget about staff training when compiling their Christmas range, warned Copping, suggesting bar staff should be invited to sample new products and flavours.
“It’s a simple training method but you cannot underestimate the importance of knowing your own menu,” she added.

You cannot underestimate the importance of knowing your own menu.

Rob Calder, head of marketing for Swedish cider brand Kopparberg, agreed that it’s important for publicans to take stock of their range prior to Christmas but also cautioned against overlooking the bar’s core range.
“You shouldn’t neglect the proven winners,” said Calder, who sees the festive season as “a great opportunity to attract infrequent consumers back into the on-trade”.
“In terms of atmosphere, there are few better places to be in November and December than a busy, convivial bar,” he added.
“Consumers are willing to splash out on more premium drinks and brands they are confident ordering, so make sure that they are not disappointed by ensuring the perfect serve every time.”