The season to toast to bars’ good health

As wellbeing becomes more important, pubs have to offer healthier choices

Mocktails are said to be a great way to appeal to customers drinking less or not at all

ONE of the biggest changes in consumer behaviour in recent years has been the growing interest in healthy living – and this trend is likely to continue throughout the summer.

Yet the rise of healthier eating and drinking needn’t be a problem for the on-trade and can easily be turned into a positive, say firms consulted by SLTN, as catering to these customers’ demands can lead to healthy profits.

One of the best ways to achieve this is said to be offering a good range of low and no-alcohol and reduced calorie soft drinks and mixers when the temperature rises.

Adrian Troy, marketing director at Barr Soft Drinks, said licensees should be looking to tap into the most prevalent trends over the season by “understanding their customer base and tailoring their soft drinks offering accordingly”.

And few trends have been predicted to be bigger this summer than wellbeing.

“The increasing consumer and media focus on health continues to be a major driver of product choice and is a significant consideration when choosing between drinks,” said Carol Saunders, head of customer marketing at Highland Spring.

“Therefore, operators need to make sure their range appeals to health-conscious consumers by offering options low in sugar and calories or sugar-free.”

As the warmer weather naturally draws customers into licensed venues to quench their thirst, licensees have to be ready to maximise their appeal to as broad a base as possible.

This can be done by appealing to consumers of low and no-alcohol drinks, said Andrew Turner, director of wine for Eisberg Alcohol Free Wine.

He said: “Make the most of the fact that consumers are now making conscious choices to reduce their alcohol intake, or eliminate consumption altogether.

“At the same time they don’t want to be increasing their calorie intake or feel excluded from any occasion, particularly during the summer season.

“This has presented the industry with a huge opportunity for low and no-alcohol beverages.”

Operators need to make sure their range appeals to health-conscious consumers.

The growth in the number of people abstaining from alcohol altogether was also referenced by Simon Harris, customer marketing director at Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP), who reckons mocktails can be used to tempt in those consumers.

He said: “For a few years now we’ve talked about how operators should focus on the rise of the teetotal consumer. The trend is particularly key for those looking to attract millennials, as nearly a quarter of under 24s in the UK are now choosing to not drink alcohol at all.

“Mocktails can be just as creative as cocktails and as nearly a third of people say they would consider ordering a mocktail if offered, this is a great chance for licensees to maximise sales.”

And for those wishing to still drink alcohol, but do so in smaller amounts, Jen Draper, head of marketing at Global Brands, parent company of soft drink brand Franklin & Sons, predicted that the use of tonic water in low-alcohol serves will grow this summer.

“Vermouth and tonic is the perfect example of this,” said Draper.

“Vermouth is traditionally considered moderately low-proof, boasting a 15-18% ABV, so when mixed with tonic offers the perfect lower alcohol drink – while still tapping into the ‘and tonic’ trend.”

With healthy drinks in such demand, Mark Veale of catering equipment firm Nisbets said fresh fruit juices will “without doubt prove popular at any time of the day” in bars “as people are becoming increasingly aware of the need to get their five a day”.

Running in tandem with wellbeing is a rise in consumer interest in the ingredients they are drinking.

Fergus Franks, Fever-Tree’s on-trade marketing manager, said: “Consumers are more aware than ever before about what they are consuming, they are also aware of the vast amount of choice that is available within the soft drinks category. This awareness extends as far as the ingredients within the products which should be of the highest quality.”