A social approach to festive trading

Embracing digital media will be a good way to engage with customers this Christmas season

People in pub on phones
The majority of 16 to 44 year olds use social networking sites, according to the ONS.

GETTING a Christmas offer just right can be tricky, and this might be even more true in 2019 than at any point in the past.

Not only do festive serves have to have the right flavour, but in the age of Instagram they have to look just right as well.

In August the Office for National Statistics reported that 84% of UK adults had accessed the internet while ‘on the go’ (ie. away from home) within the previous three months, with 68% having used social networking sites within the same timeframe.

Predictably, those numbers went up in younger age groups, with 98% of 16 to 24 year olds having used social networking sites, 91% of 25 to 34 year olds and 84% of 35 to 44 year olds.

Competition is tough but you can stand out by taking advantage of social media.

Social media is now a major tool for brands looking to engage directly with their customer bases, and this rings just as true for bars and pubs as for any other type of business.

Rosie Crossman, brand manager for soft drinks and mixers brand Franklin & Sons at parent company Global Brands, said the perfect serve now “goes further than the drink itself”.

“Consumers also want extra theatre added to create a heightened experience,” she said.

“This includes an ambient setting, premium glassware and a drink that looks aesthetically pleasing for social media, with the perfect drink receiving 74 Instagram likes on average.”

Crossman added that ‘Generation Z’ consumers (ie. those in their late teens to early 20s) are “more likely to order drinks seen on a venue’s Instagram page which look sophisticated and desirable”.

And it’s not just the drinks that need to be ‘Instagram-able’, according to Amy Burgess, senior trade communications manager at Coca-Cola European Partners.

She said: “From creating colourful Christmas cocktails and serves with unique festive garnishes, to putting thought into selecting crockery and cutlery for their venue, consistent attention to detail is key to helping operators maximise the ‘Instagram-able’ trend over the party period.”

Clearly, when it comes to attracting Christmas customers, looks very much matter.
But it’s not enough to create well-presented food and drink and then hope customers share photos of it on their social media channels.

Operators also need to actively engage with social media in order to get the most out of the medium, according to drinks firms.

Neil Everitt, chief executive of Brockmans Gin, for example, advised licensees to “make sure you have clear branding for your venue and your social media handles as well as the brand’s social media handles on the cocktail menu so that you are tagged and supported by the brands and your menu makes it into the images”.

And Fi Leonard, customer marketing manager at Tennent’s parent company, C&C Group, went one further, suggesting operators should develop their own social media strategies to encourage interaction.

“Competition is tough during the festive period but you can stand out from competitors by taking advantage of social media to encourage new and repeat custom,” said Leonard.

“For example, posting your Christmas food and drinks menus in advance of the Christmas period to encourage reservations, posting photos of special Christmas serves, ‘like and share’ competitions will all have an impact on your social footprint as well as get people talking about what your outlet is doing this Christmas.”

And the posts shouldn’t be few and far between.

Leonard said venues’ social media channels should be busy in the approach to and right through the festive season in order to maintain interest.

“By ensuring their social media channels have a consistent stream of posts about their flavour offering, premium serves and any promotions they have running throughout the festivities, outlets can ensure their offering is visible and attractive to potential customers, helping to drive footfall,” she said.