Sometimes it snows in April, and there will be at least one rainy afternoon in June, but despite the unpredictable nature of the weather summer still represents a solid opportunity to boost beer sales in the on-trade.
Whatever the weather, this summer could be something special, according to the brewers behind some of the top beer brands in the Scottish trade, who reckon canny operators could cash in on big events, with everything from Euro 2016 and the Olympics expected to bring customers out of their homes and into the on-trade.
Alasdair Bayne, on-trade marketing manager at Tennent’s, said this summer’s sporting events present a “key opportunity” for the trade.
“Euro 2016 and the Olympics will spark the attention of people who might not normally consider themselves sports fans and so operators should think about how they can make the most of these two events in particular,” said Bayne.
“With sport taking place nearly every night of the week, it’s a great opportunity for an increase on mid-week traffic through the door.”
A sales opportunity is one thing but it can be squandered through poor execution.
John Gemmell, trading director at Heineken UK, suggested that publicans get preparations underway for this summer’s big events now to ensure they make the most of them.
“To capitalise on the opportunity sport provides, licensees need to plan well in advance,” said Gemmell.
“Signposting your venue as a great place to watch sports is crucial, as is making sure the AV and sound systems are working well and all the screens are visible.”
Hugo Mills, sales and operations director for Molson Coors, agreed this year’s major sporting events “create an opportunity to sell more beer, as most operators would tell you”, adding that the summer’s major tournaments can also bring out customers who may not regularly visit the on-trade.
“2016 is a busy year for sport, an opportunity for outlets to attract those occasional drinkers,” said Mills.
To make the most of this, Mills said it’s key to stock a beer range that delivers “value and quality” to meet customer expectations.
Mills suggested that stocking a quality beer range, which is in turn sold by knowledgeable staff, should work in tandem with the summer’s big events to give beer sales a boost.
“By educating your people with knowledge and passion to describe different beer styles you will empower them with confidence to amplify your bottom line,” he said.
“By creating and delivering those memorable events you are meeting the needs of your local drinkers and encouraging the occasional drinkers to visit more often.”
A spokeswoman for Halewood International, the firm behind Chinese beer brand Tsingtao, agreed that there is a “significant link between beer and major sporting events” and that this summer’s tournaments could provide a “welcome boost to on-trade sales”.
“Providing a quality experience can drive increased footfall,” she said.
“Operators should adapt their beer offering to suit the occasion.”
The Euros and Olympics will be the headline-grabbing events of the summer, but the season itself provides an opportunity for pubs to add to their bottom lines; and Halewood reckons creating an “experience” for customers is the way to do this.
“During the summer months, consumers tend to lean towards buying an experience, operators would benefit from providing menus that pair food and beverages,” said the spokeswoman.
One event that’s fast becoming a fixture of the Scottish on-trade is the tap takeover, with brewers and bars working together to get customers engaged with the category.
Emily Gray of Edinburgh-based Stewart Brewing reckons hosting tap takeover events can benefit both brewer and bar.
“These events enable us to work closely with the pubs that provide us so much support and give us the opportunity to showcase the range of beer styles that we are capable of producing,” said Gray.
Mills agreed, and suggested that tap takeover events chime well with the current trend for premium products in the Scottish on-trade.
“Scottish beer drinkers believe it is worth paying more for a better quality beer, these events introduce consumers to new styles and flavours of beer and encourage people to experiment and possibly trade up, creating more revenue,” said Mills.