After an outstanding May in which Scotland saw the sun shining far more than in the run-up to the washout that was summer 2015, it makes sense to be cautiously optimistic that this year could be a summer to remember.
While the warm weather brings punters out, drinks firms say keeping customers satisfied once they are out is key to success this season.
Johna Penman, marketing controller at Maxxium UK, the firm behind The Famous Grouse, Brugal, Jim Beam and Courvoisier in the UK, said that in the warmer summer months “customers are looking for cold, refreshing drinks that are perfect for the beer garden”, advising operators to “think pitchers with summer fruit garnishes such as lemon, lime and oranges to be shared with friends”.
Penman said this makes it “essential” for bars to stock a range of premium spirits “to tap into this trend and drive margin for the outlet”.
Faith Holland, of spirits giant Diageo agreed that summer presents a strong opportunity to boost spirits sales.
Holland said publicans should make sure they “consider all opportunities to amplify sales” – including “creating the perfect sharing pitcher, eye-catching POS and inspiring menus, food promotions and even outdoor games, making sure every occasion in summer is covered”.
“People are no longer content with standard drink options; they’re looking for new experiences and refreshing long drinks, especially over summer,” said Holland.
Cocktails in particular can drive sales in the summer months, Holland said, quoting stats supplied by CGA Strategy which suggest adding cocktails to the menu “can increase spirit sales by 36%”.
German herbal liqueur maker Mast-Jaegermeister is aiming to make the most of mixed drinks’ popularity in the summer by promoting Jägermeister long serve Root56.
Nicole Goodwin, marketing director at Mast-Jaegermeister UK, said licensees who want to cash in on cocktails “should ensure they are stocked up on the key ingredients ahead of, and during, the summer months”.
Planning for the days when the sun shines was also described as key by Dan Bolton of Hi-Spirits – the firm behind Southern Comfort and Brooklyn Gin.
Bolton reckons that rather than wait for the sun to appear, publicans should “promote summer drinks on posters, table talkers and A-boards so customers know where to come on a warm evening or weekend”.
“Customers only know what’s on offer when you tell them – use posters and printed drinks menus to tempt them before they get to the bar,” said Bolton.
Johna Penman, marketing controller for Japanese liqueur brand Midori, echoed Bolton on the importance of promoting summer drinks – suggesting that operators take to the internet to boost exposure of their drinks range.
“Social media has led to operators having a whole new channel of communication to promote offers, competitions and a general buzz with their target audience in the most suited way,” said Penman.
“It’s a huge opportunity which must be maximised.
“By doing this, operators can join their customers, before, during and after their nights out.
“For example, inspiring customers on where to go by sharing in bar cocktails, offers and events, encouraging customers to tag the bar in their social posts and sharing in-house photography afterwards will generate buzz and conversation.”
While building a drinks menu that’s suited to the summer is key, Nick Williamson of Campari UK, the firm behind Aperol and Appleton Estate rum, also suggested operators consider hosting some summer-themed events as a way of further driving traffic to their outlet and boosting sales.
“Operators could build summer events around a theme such as ‘the authentic Jamaican experience’ creating rum cocktails, serving jerk chicken and putting on live music,” said Williams.