Versatile selection of products can help operators adapt their offer
A VERSATILE range that lends itself to quickly-prepared long drinks and cocktails could help licensees make the most of sunny days in the coming weeks.
That was the message from drinks firms last week, who said stocking a range of spirits and soft drinks that can be adapted to different serves will enable operators to tweak their drinks offer at short notice, should there be a sudden spell of sunshine.
“Versatile products allow the venue to change their offerings to suit the occasion, and to move with the weather,” said Julie Bliss, brand manager for Licor 43 at Cellar Trends.
“For instance, creating a refreshing pitcher serve that can be shared amongst friends will go down well in the summer as people head to pubs/bars in groups to enjoy the weather, whilst also driving rate of sale for the outlet.”
Products that work well in a variety of serves can also help encourage creativity among bar staff, said Mark Young, chief executive of Freedrinks, the company behind soft drinks brand Zeo.
“A versatile product is important for the on-trade as it enables bartenders and staff to create a wide offering for their customers and, ultimately, get creative with what is available to them,” he said.
Versatility was also flagged up by Ron Young at Halewood International, who said operators should “ensure that they stock products that are both versatile and appeal to their clientele”.
Offering a wide range of spirit and mixer serves is said to be particularly important during the summer months.
“In summer 2013, spirits was the fastest growing category, up 9.7% in value sales,” said Faith Holland, head of on-trade category development at Diageo.
“Spirits and mixers are one of the most profitable drinks licensees can sell as there is a higher average spend on this segment in the summer, compared to the rest of the year.”
A versatile product is important as it enables staff to get creative.
Holland’s comments were echoed by Graham Coull, director of VC2 Brands, the firm behind Stivy’s and Boe Superior Gin, who said there has been “an uplift in longer summer drinks” as well as sharing serves such as pitchers and ‘fish bowls’.
A dedicated ‘sunny day’ drinks list can help operators maximise sales in the coming weeks, according to Ian Peart, on-trade channel director for spirits at Pernod Ricard UK.
And with cocktails and wine both proving popular over the summer, he recommended including wine-based cocktails on any such list.
“The cocktail category is thriving with 65% of bars now selling cocktails and wine continues to be a top-selling serve with French and Italian wines seeing the most significant growth in the on-trade,” said Peart. “Wine-based cocktails provide outlets with a great opportunity to drive sales as they are simple to prepare and quick to serve, making a valuable addition to any cocktail list.”
Fresh fruit and bright colours are another must for any sunny day drinks list, said Gabriela Moncada of Proximo Spirits, the firm behind Jose Cuervo and The Kraken spiced rum in the UK.
She said: “Guests want to feel like they’re on holiday when drinking cocktails, so what better way than giving them a taste of it? Create cocktails like Margaritas and Caipirinhas using tropical fruits such as mango, watermelon, pomegranate, passionfruit, banana and pineapple.”
But it’s not just alcoholic drinks that could prove popular with customers on sunnier days.
Stocking a balanced range of soft drinks is also important, said Dave Turner, on-trade communications manager at Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE).
“The importance of the category is heightened in summer, when the need to refresh and rehydrate during warm weather can result in increased sales,” said Turner. “Soft drinks are bigger than the cider, wine and spirits categories and, like food, are playing a crucial role in the changing licensed environment.”
A simple element like the perfect serve can have a dramatic effect on sales.
Promoting the range to customers is also important, said Alan Hay, on-trade controller at AG Barr.
Hay advised licensees to use point of sale material whenever possible, which he said “is proven to have a significant impact on sales”.
And while the range of drinks is crucial, drinks firms stressed the importance of delivering a consistent standard of serve, regardless of the drink being poured.
“Ensure the delivery of a ‘perfect serve drink’ as this will encourage people to buy in the first instance – and then to purchase more,” said Hay.
“People buy with their eyes so if a drink looks good, they will be tempted to buy.”
Young, at Freedrinks, agreed. He said delivering the perfect serve is important “even during the busiest periods”.
“A simple element like the perfect serve can have a dramatic effect on sales, customer retention and repeat purchase,” said Young.
And a perfect serve doesn’t have to be complex, said Peart at Pernod Ricard.
“The ‘perfect serve’ does not have to be complicated – rather it is about differentiating your drinks offering with a compelling proposition,” he said.
“The growth of up-tempo occasions offers a significant opportunity to those licensees that can develop drinks solutions that work for this occasion, such as simple long mixed drinks made using premium products.”