This article contains paid-for content created in collaboration with Heineken
As the Scottish government extends restrictions in a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus, the hospitality industry faces enormous pressure to navigate new rules and future-proof businesses. Now, more than ever, it’s important for operators to engage with the community and diversify their offering to continue driving footfall and revenue during lockdown. This can be difficult to plan when juggling so many elements of running an on-trade business, but as the leading pub, cider and beer company, HEINEKEN has the advice and tools to help support you over the next few months.
Pubs are a cultural institution, providing a space for people to meet, socialise and tackle loneliness or isolation – particularly key following periods of lockdown. Far more than just a watering hole, 95% of consumers believe pubs and bars play an important role in their community. Now is the time to appeal to different demographics, such as young mums and elderly groups, by offering them space to meet during quieter times. You could host coffee mornings or lunch clubs – consider your layout and offering to ensure a warm, welcoming and safe environment, and communicate via your website and across social media channels to help spread the word.
With a greater proportion of consumers working from home, there is an opportunity to appeal to remote workers, tired of seeing the same four walls every day. Entice people into your venue for a change of scenery by creating a designated quiet area, providing free Wi-Fi and offering a range of tea, coffee and soft drinks. Don’t be afraid to set some guidelines, such as timeslots, but ensure you communicate these clearly through POS and digital comms.
Operators can also diversify their businesses by setting up click and collect and takeaway services, or running a local shop, where possible – allowing those most affected by the restrictions to continue trading. More people are keen to support local, so it’s important to engage them through social media (paid-for and organic) and traditional marketing (A-boards, signage and leaflet drops). You can refer to our Keg Talks podcast for further advice, or why not take ideas from the Inspirational Stories hosted on The Pub Collective?
The rise of no and low is hardly news, but the current restrictions elevate the opportunities that come with serving zero alcohol. Now worth £8M in Scotland, the no and low alcohol sector has been crucial to ensure consumers moderating their alcohol consumption feel part of the occasion. Now this inclusivity stretches beyond those typically moderating, as options up to 0.5%ABV mean you can continue to offer the on trade experience but without the alcohol. Pay careful consideration to quality and serve, such as zero alcohol on draught, mocktails or create-your-own perfect zero-alcohol G&T (personalised by brand, tonic and garnish), so the experience remains better than anything your customers can get at home. Start your range with recognised brands such as Heineken 0.0 and Old Mout Alcohol Free to drive volume, and ensure you have an offering across all categories: beer, cider, spirits and wine. Your customers don’t want to compromise, as they still remain category loyal when moderating. No and low alternatives deliver a higher RSP than soft drinks, meaning more money in your till.
Heineken 0.0 is the number one no and low alcohol brand in Scotland, across both volume and value. As 90% of beer and cider sold is on draught and it commands a higher price than packaged, HEINEKEN SmartDispense™ Blade is the quickest and easiest way to give your customers the same experience of a freshly poured pint but without the alcohol. With no installation, maintenance or line cleaning required, the plug and pour Blade technology serves consistently cold, high quality pints and the keg stays fresh for 30 days once tapped, with no added preservatives. Through Star Pubs & Bars, HEINEKEN has been able to prove that stocking Heineken 0.0 in both packaged and draught format deliver 133% uplift in volume sales versus selling packaged alone.
Premiumisation is still prevalent; drinks like Old Mout Berries & Cherries Alcohol Free, the fastest growing no and low alcohol cider in the Scottish on-trade, appeal to cider drinkers looking for a more premium option. Since the majority of moderation and premium adult soft drinks options are in packaged format, you have an opportunity to experiment with different products at a lower risk, thanks to smaller volumes and longer shelf lives. With the extensive range of non-alcoholic products now available, consider building your range with trials of ‘guest’ products in small order quantities. Select brands or flavours not typically available from the supermarket to encourage customer experimentation and trade up. You may discover a new favourite for your permanent range.
Technology & Support
In line with government regulations, it’s important you continue to meet social distancing and hygiene standards. There are a range of new technology solutions on the market, such as Swifty. This payment, loyalty and reservation app facilitates contactless payment and can be used to drive footfall, loyalty and spend in your venue. For HEINEKEN Direct and Smart Dispense customers, Swifty is completely free for the first four months via the HEINEKEN Buying Club which offers access to leading tools and services at discounted prices. Save an estimated £5,000 per year, with more suppliers being added. What’s more, you no longer need to shop around and negotiate the best prices, leaving you time to focus on more important things – like your customers.
In the current climate, you can also use technology to train your staff remotely and flexibly during quieter trading periods. Hello Beer is a mobile app designed to allow operators to maintain staff engagement, while reducing wastage costs from improved cellar management to beer and cider pouring best practice – ultimately helping you sell more great quality pints, making your outlet more profitable.
These are extremely challenging times, but we continue to be inspired by the resilience of operators across the country. At HEINEKEN, we believe whole-heartedly in the pub and the central role it plays in our communities. As we navigate the new climate together, we will continue to support one another in safeguarding our dynamic hospitality industry, both in Scotland and across the whole of the UK.