Making the most of the upcoming festive season will be all about identifying and capitalising on a range of different ‘Christmas moments’, according to the firm behind one of the country’s biggest brand portfolios.
Pernod Ricard, whose drinks stable includes Scotch whiskies Chivas and Aberlour and wine brands Jacob’s Creek and Campo Viejo, as well as brands such as Malibu and Absolut, has identified what it says will be the six key opportunities for licensees over the festive season.
Research commissioned by the firm found a range of different occasions that will attract people into bars and pubs this December – and the right drinks offer will be essential if operators are to capitalise on any of them.
The first, and arguably most high profile opportunity, lies in work nights out.
Speaking to SLTN, Ian Peart, on-trade channel director at Pernod Ricard UK, encouraged licensees to start promoting their Christmas food and drink offers online and via social media if they haven’t already.
Peart said offering groups a bottle of spirits and a selection of mixers for their table can help take the pressure off waiting staff at this busy time of year.
And pre-booked events allow outlets to up-sell on the drinks side before any customers have even set foot in the venue.
“In general, work party people aren’t paying for it, so they are a bit more liberal in what’s spent,” said Peart.
“But certainly, trading people up from the standard sparkling wine or Prosecco to Champagne should be relatively easy to do if it’s done in advance.”
Festive catch-ups between friends provide another two opportunities for licensees – one each for male and female nights out.
Peart said a good range of recognised wines is essential for the women’s events, while the men will often opt for beers at the beginning of the night and then darker spirits later in the evening.
Christmas shopping trips will provide another chance for venues to market themselves to customers, said Peart, as weary shoppers look for some respite after a busy day in shopping centres and high streets.
Hot drinks, in particular, will likely prove popular on these occasions, according to Pernod Ricard, with mulled wine or the company’s own suggested serve of Malibu and hot chocolate helping customers relax after a stressful day.
Cocktails continue to be a big sales driver for many outlets, and Pernod Ricard insists the category will present significant opportunities for licensees over the festive season.
Peart said many customers will treat themselves to cocktails during Christmas nights out even if they don’t drink them at other times of year.
“Maybe they don’t drink them through the year, but Christmas is seen as a time when they will try new cocktails, and they will look at those twists on classics,” he said.
“There’s only 25% of all on-trade outlets that serve any cocktails at all, and I would urge any [licensees] to look at doing a very simple cocktail menu for Christmas. That’s something we can help them with in terms of which ones they should go for.”
Lastly, venues that serve food stand to benefit from offering a strong range of after-dinner drinks.
“I think it’s a very easy incremental sell,” added Peart.
“We’ve all been at those dinners when someone decides to have something from the digestif list and it’s like a Mexican wave around the table – someone goes ‘I’ll have a whisky, I’ll have a liqueur’. It’s very easy to serve and it’s incremental cash in the till.”