CHRISTMAS nights out tend to be feel-good occasions when consumers are prepared to ‘trade-up’ as they spend time celebrating with family, friends and loved ones.
Drinks firms say this means there is a valuable opportunity for operators to increase sales and boost revenues as consumers seek luxury alternatives.
Andrew King, CEO of cocktail mixer brand Funkin, said the demand for cocktails at this time of year rises.
“Pubs and bars should absolutely be focused on their mixed drink offering as there is a significant opportunity for them to increase profits particularly during the festive season when consumers are likely to spend a bit more and treat themselves to something special,” said King.
“Christmas cocktail menus should feature two to three drinks that offer customers a bit of theatre at the bar and give them a reason to choose a cocktail instead of ordering a basic spirit and mixer.”
King believes sharing cocktails are also essential during the festive period.
“Operators find that their busiest time period surrounds Christmas, which is anchored with celebration, so festive cocktails are a must,” he said.
“The festive season is about getting together with friends and family and sharing cocktails are perfect for this occasion.”
James Wright, head of spirits and agency brands at Halewood International, whose brands include Lamb’s Navy Rum and Crabbie’s, advised operators to consider stocking up on premium products.
“Consumers are minded to trade-up and treat themselves over the festive period, so operators should consider a more premium offering,” said Wright.
“Operators should stock a range of categories which will appeal to their customer base, however premium brands and those which offer something different should be considered.”
The season also presents a significant opportunity for ‘high-energy’ products such as shots, according to Nicole Goodwin, marketing director of Mast Jägermeister UK.
“The shot moment brings friends together, celebrating deep and meaningful friendships and creating long-lasting memories,” said Goodwin.
“The theatre and increased social occasions around the Christmas period calls for a wide range of serves and licensees should look for spirits that can be used in a variety of ways including limited edition, themed serves and cocktails.”
In this area, also, premium products were flagged as presenting the best opportunity for operators to grow sales.
Goodwin said: “Consumers desire authenticity and quality whatever the occasion may be, whether purchasing on a ‘something for tonight’ mission or enjoying an evening out in a local bar to celebrate the festive season.
“Consumers are happy to pay an extra 20-30p for quality brands, so licensees should ensure that they stock premium spirits and brands around Christmas.”
Bars need to work hard to secure extra business over the Christmas period, said Debs Carter, marketing director – alcohol at SHS Drinks, owner of WKD.
She said: “The best way to do this is to ensure that customers have a great time; people want to have fun over the festive season so licensees need to think ahead and gear-up to deliver memorable nights out.
“The key to success is to keep things simple so that at peak periods, when opportunities to maximise revenues are greatest, both sufficient staff and stocks are available to ensure that all the popular Christmas offerings and key drinks promotions can be fulfilled.
“It’s important to review ranges before the all-important Christmas peak so as to make sure there’s plenty of space for the leading brands as these are the ones consumers turn to at this time of year.”
Dave Turner, trade communications manager at Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE), said the festive season presents significant potential for those with the right offer.
He said: “Seasonal events like Christmas have the potential to bring different people to on-trade establishments, so pubs and bars should aim to capitalise on this opportunity by offering a wide selection of products and flavours to cater for all consumer needs.”