AS sales of spirits stay strong, the capacity of premium serves to capture the imagination of customers and lead to higher repeat sales is something that will be on the minds of the most prudent operators.
The good news for licensees is that as the number of quality spirits on the market has increased, so too have the options when it comes to mixers and soft drinks.
And the firms behind these products say operators who disregard the potential of premium mixers could be making a costly mistake.
“Choosing premium spirits is no longer a luxury,” said Justin Horsman, marketing controller at Franklin & Sons.
“With premium spirits currently sitting at 17.9% of the market share, it’s evident that more consumers are opting for premium spirits, and just like a Michelin-starred chef wouldn’t use the finest ingredients and pour granulated gravy over the top of their creation, bartenders don’t want to spoil their premium spirits with sub-par mixers.”
Naturally, those slowest to upgrade their mixers run the risk of losing out.
And Fergus Franks, Fever-Tree’s on-trade marketing chief, said those who offer variety will notice the benefits.
He said: “For us, by stocking a range of flavoured tonic waters you’re instantly offering a new, exciting portfolio to your customers to drink.
“There’s no point in having eight gins on your back-bar and just using gun tonic. There’d be no point of difference between them and you’re not going to sell them.
“By selling your premium gins with different tonics, you’re instantly offering a point of difference to your consumers and they’re going to try different gins, different tonics, and ultimately you’re going to drive your margins.”
Having alcohol-free cocktails and soft drinks is key to any bar or restaurant nowadays.
The health trend is one to watch, with many consumers looking to lead healthier lifestyles.
And licensees can still profit from the increasing number of people who choose not to drink by offering a range of alcohol-free cocktails and mixers.
A spokesperson for premium mixer producer Double Dutch Drinks said: “Consumers are more and more aware that moderation is important if they want to keep themselves healthy and many of them are choosing to drink only on weekends or at specific dates.
“So having alcohol-free cocktails and other beverages, such as soft drinks, is key to any bar or restaurant nowadays.”
Soft drink giant Britvic has taken steps to address the trend towards healthy, calorie-light options in the on-trade, claiming it has removed, on average, 19 billon calories from the market every year since 2012.
And the firm’s Russell Goldman said operators keen to attract the millennial generation would do well to cater for their increasingly healthier lifestyles.
“With many younger consumers adopting healthier lifestyles, outlets wanting to attract this sociable demographic need to offer healthier soft drinks choices, but that crucially, also taste great,” he said.
“We know that millennials consume alcohol differently to previous generations, with a clear shift towards enjoyment of alcohol in moderation and a move towards more socialising occasions with food.
“The opportunity for soft drinks in this area is huge and for those operators who get their offering right and ensure they give the millennial consumer the experience they are looking for, the rewards are there for the taking.”
Offer customers something new:
“It’s been well documented that around two thirds of drinkers are willing to pay more for premium mixers, while 41% of soft drinks consumers look for more unusual flavours thanks to the rising trend of seeking out new and exciting taste experiences.”
– Franklin & Sons
Offer healthier drinks options:
“With many consumers conscious of their calorie and sugar intake, it’s evident that operators need to make sure they have a range of low and no sugar options in their soft drinks to meet consumers’ needs.”
Get to know your customers:
“It’s fundamental to understand your clientele and know what they are looking for in terms of drinks.”
– Double Dutch Drinks
Ensure quality presentation:
“To deliver more premium experiences to their consumers and therefore drive extra spend, outlets should ensure soft drinks are consistently presented well, in a branded or high quality glass with ice and an appropriate garnish.”