Producers say some publicans are missing out on a valuable liquid asset
THE continued popularity of cocktails is said to be helping grow the liqueurs category in the UK on-trade.
And yet while some bars have embraced the trend, drinks firms say others have been slow on the uptake.
Recent research by William Grant & Sons suggested UK nightclubs sell the most liqueurs and speciality spirits, averaging out at 450 bottles a year.
The 2014 Market Report also showed the category had grown by £202 million in the last two years.
Jonathan Dennys, Mast-Jäegermeister UK’s customer marketing and insight controller, said a consumer willingness to experiment with “new and exciting drinks” has helped the category to remain buoyant.
“Shots and speciality spirits are particularly popular due to their versatility, as they can be served neat but also lend themselves particularly well to long serves and cocktails,” said Dennys.
Cocktails were also cited as a factor in liqueurs’ success by Simon Green, marketing director at Global Brands.
“Liqueur sales more generally will benefit from the continued growth of cocktails,” he said.
“The cocktail trend is going to continue to grow in popularity throughout 2015, with consumers seeking out more credible experiences and prepared to spend more on a drink which offers a full experience, providing a lucrative trade up opportunity for licensees.”
And ‘energy cocktails’, he claimed, are moving speciality liqueurs away from shots and shooters.
Green, however, insisted that some publicans are missing an opportunity to increase sales.
He said: “Whilst the majority of high street bars are now offering a variety of cocktails and mixed drinks, pubs have delayed in catering to this trend.
“This is therefore a key opportunity for 2015.”
Dennys at Jägermeister insisted that range, display and communication are crucial for driving sales and suggested creating a specific area where premium brands can be brought together on the back-bar.
This, he said, can “add some theatre” to the display which can be showcased alongside best-selling products.
He said: “At least 60% of consumers will not buy what they cannot see and 43% of consumers are undecided when they reach the bar and take between ten and 30 seconds to make their decision, so making sure that premium brands are highly visible is vital to maximise sales.
“Creating a ‘party spirits area’ by grouping shot brands together on the back-bar can attract consumers and increase profits.”
Certain times of month can also be particularly effective for boosting liqueur sales, according to Green,
who said there are often spikes in demand on payday nights, bank holidays and other landmark group occasions.
“The hen night season (May to July) and the May and August Bank Holiday weekends will offer operators a number of opportunities where there is increased demand for cocktails in 2015,” he said.
The group night out, he claims, is where “shared serves” are particularly popular.
“They are quick and easy to prepare and offer a visually appealing drink for groups, particularly those on a girls’ night out,” said Green.
To create engaging shared serves appealing to group occasions, he advised licensees to serve drinks in innovative ways, such as in fishbowls, sandcastle buckets and pitchers.
This was echoed by Dennys, who said theatre, colour and a sense of occasion can help make a memorable group night out.
“Adding theatre to presentation – such as serving miniature bottles of Jägermeister in a bowl of ice instead of traditional shot glasses – will encourage repeat purchase,” said Dennys.
“Many of the spirits in the category lead to incremental revenue, the key is to get them seen rather than simply gathering dust at the back of the bar.”