HALLOWEEN is almost here and while younger witches and werewolves will hit the streets looking for sweets, there’s sure to be a contingent of adults heading out to the on-trade for some fancy dress fun.
This year Halloween falls on a Saturday and drinks firms say this creates an even stronger opportunity for publicans to make some extra cash, provided they plan ahead.
Jonathan Dennys, customer marketing and insight controller at Mast-Jaegermeister, said Halloween is “one of the biggest dates in the calendar” for the trade, presenting a “huge opportunity” for publicans to benefit from an uplift in sales.
“Embracing events like Halloween is essential for licensees with pre-promotion being vital to the success of any activity,” said Dennys.
Mast-Jaegermeister is currently rolling out its own Halloween packs with point of sale materials to support its Jägermeister brand in the on-trade.
Included in the ‘Jägermeister Zombie Halloween’ kit is a drinks menu advertising bespoke Jägermeister cocktails for the occasion – an approach which Dennys flagged up as key to Halloween success.
“The theatre around Halloween calls for a wide range of serves and retailers should look for spirits that can be used in a variety of ways,” he said.
“It is therefore essential that bars stock an extensive range of high quality spirits that lend themselves well to both mixed and neat shots to tap into the 18 to 24 year old market and maximise sales during the Halloween party season.”
Dennys said including limited edition and themed serves could encourage customers to purchase spirits they may not usually try, “and adds to the theatre surrounding Halloween”.
Halloween-themed cocktails and sharing serves are also being promoted by SHS Drinks, the firm behind RTD brand WKD.
Debs Carter, marketing director at SHS Drinks, highlighted the young adult market in particular as a target audience for Halloween-themed shared serves.
“Young adults thrive on social occasions and shared experiences and Halloween is a key calendar event which provides them with a great opportunity to celebrate with friends,” said Carter.
“WKD’s Halloween Cocktail Cauldrons and recipes provide the theatre and excitement which will help licensees to create a fun and vibrant atmosphere and maximise the Halloween sales opportunity.”
Echoing Dennys, Carter said this year’s event provides an even greater opportunity for pubs.
“Halloween is now the third most celebrated occasion in the UK after Christmas and Easter and this year Halloween falls on a Saturday so celebrations and sales in pubs are likely to be even greater in 2015,” she said.
Amy Ledger, marketing manager at Continental Wine & Food (CWF), agreed that Halloween has “really taken off” as an on-trade occasion in the UK, adding that there is still time for publicans to prepare.
Ledger highlighted sharing pitchers and themed cocktails as possible sales drivers at Halloween, but also suggested publicans consider a themed food offer to mark the occasion.
“Halloween-themed food will go down well – be creative and offer themed dishes to capitalise on the Halloween hype,” said Ledger.
“There are ingredients available such as black squid ink tagliatelle pasta that can be used to create terrifyingly tasty sinister pasta dishes served with a thick tomato sauce or roasted pumpkin.”
Ledger said pub owners in particular should encourage customers to “enjoy food or snacks as part of the evening”, adding that licensees may also wish to consider a ticketed event “where food, entertainment and an alcoholic or soft drink is included”.
A strong food offer could also help with daytime trade on Halloween as Simon Green of Global Brands, the firm behind VK, suggested that since Halloween not only falls on a Saturday, but also on the final of the Rugby World Cup, a broad offer could spell a winner for publicans.
“There are plenty of opportunities for operators to attract customers to their venue with targeted food and drink offerings and celebrating Halloween festivities as well as the Rugby World Cup final,” said Green.
“It is likely that adults who are interested in watching the sport will go out earlier and want to spend more money whilst the rugby is on television, therefore venues can profit from this by capitalising on both occasions,” he said.