Hop aboard the festive sales train

Christmas can serve as the perfect time to introduce new beers alongside old favourites

Christmas is the ideal time to introduce new beers – both festive and premium, brewers say

WITH December 25 just over four weeks away, the countdown to Christmas has officially begun. And with the weeks between now and then holding the potential to be especially lucrative, it’s vital that operators stock the right products – especially when it comes to the stalwart drinks categories.

That was the view of several of the major brewers, who told SLTN that it is vital operators make the most of the sales opportunity afforded by the festive season.

Fi Leonard, customer marketing manager at Tennent’s, told SLTN: “The Christmas period is that crucial time of year when operators can drive increased revenue through their tills. To capitalise on the festive cheer, a good drinks range is vital.”

This viewpoint was echoed by Liam Newton of Carlsberg UK, who offered some suggestions on simple additions that could drive sales throughout the holidays.

“By introducing a seasonal or festive serve style, such as a warm or mulled beer, operators can create excitement and an experience with a difference for the customer,” he said.

Another simple way to boost sales is to tempt customers with some premium alternatives, said Leonard of Tennent’s, whose portfolio includes Belgian brand Heverlee and Italian lager brand, Menabrea.

“Operators are in a unique position over the festive period where consumers are not only [more] likely to be open to trying something new – but more premium, and often at a higher price point than what they might normally choose,” she said.

Stock at least one premium beer to meet demand from Christmas party-goers.

Leonard added that Tennent’s advice to licensees is to stock at least one premium beer as part of their range, in order to “meet the demand of Christmas party-goers”. However, a range must be balanced in order to cater to all tastes and price points.

David Styring of Molson Coors said that operators must look back in order to step forward this Christmas.

“When selecting a drinks range, we recommend publicans and bar owners consider products [which] have performed well during the year – and let this insight guide their purchasing decisions,” said Styring.

Echoing this view, Leonard at Tennent’s said while consumers “will be looking to trial new drinks throughout the festive period”, it remains “absolutely vital that licensees still pay close attention to the best sellers which should form the core of any bar offer”.

She added: “When tweaking your offering, it’s important to also pay attention to what’s not performing well, taking up back-bar or font space.

“Try introducing new brands with promotions to gauge interest from your regulars and get insight as to how well it’s likely to do.”

Beyond ranging, an outlet’s staff remain crucial to hopping aboard the festive beer train, according to Leonard, who said, citing CGA data, that 80% of consumers are influenced by staff recommendations – meaning that well informed bartenders “can make informed recommendations” which “gives you a platform to up-sell higher priced products”.

“Well-trained staff will also help to ensure that queues are minimised, service standards are high and ultimately consumers enjoy a brilliant experience,” she said.

Customers also don’t like to be kept waiting, added Leonard, who said it is vital licensees keep an eye on staffing levels “to make sure you meet the demand and keep customers in good festive spirits”.