Quality might be more important than ever as consumers tighten their belts
QUALITY will count this autumn, as many customers look to keep an eye on their expenses.
Brand owners told SLTN that, whether it’s a three-course meal or a simple spirit and mixer, value is likely to be as important as it’s ever been for pub, bar and restaurant customers.
And with the cost of living expected to rise further in the coming months, drinks companies reckon consumers will expect any gin serve to be top notch each time they visit a venue.
“It’s very important for outlets to take note that in the past six months, almost two in five Scottish consumers have noticed increases in the prices of alcoholic drinks when visiting bars and restaurants,” said Johna Penman, UK trade and consumer marketing director at Ian Macleod Distillers, parent company of Edinburgh Gin.
She added that 15% of consumers reckon cost of living challenges will have an impact on the frequency of their visits to hospitality venues.
“Almost two in five Scottish consumers have noticed increases in the price of alcoholic drinks”
“Value is going to be extremely important to the consumer, especially at a time when disposable income is squeezed,” said Penman.
“Therefore, the creation of memorable experiences that show people they are valued will be something customers are expecting.
“It will be a powerful driver of loyalty and recommendation in 2022 and beyond, and the bars that can deliver it best will have a huge head start on the competition.”
However, pub and bar visitors will be willing to pay if they are confident they are getting quality.
“Consumers are definitely becoming more cautious about retail purchases but are willing to pay for delicious and beautifully garnished drinks in venues,” said Jo Jacobius at Dunnet Bay Distillers, the company behind Rock Rose Gin.
“They are prepared to pay that little extra for something that gives them a great experience.”
The quality offer begins with the range of gins a venue is stocking on its back-bar.
Craig Innes of Pixel Spirits in North Ballachulish, whose range includes Devil’s Staircase Highland Spiced Gin, said there are “several variables to consider” when selecting the right gins for a venue.
“The first should be locality,” said Innes.
“Especially in tourism-led areas, consumers want to taste the local produce.
“Local distilleries will also mostly go out of their way to help promote their products to the customers.”
Next is ensuring your gin selection covers a range of styles, said Innes.
“Having a core range of different styles of gin gives the customer choice,” he said.
“You don’t have to carry a large range as long as you have a breadth of different styles – such as spiced, citrus, piney, herbal, floral – and know how to recommend each one.”
And quality has to be conveyed with every serve, whether it’s a straightforward gin and tonic or a more complex cocktail.
“Whilst many would argue that taste is the most important, we know that for consumers, drinks often need to be just as equally easy on the eyes to give the complete drinking experience,” said Seb Bunford-Jones, marketing manager at Glasgow Distillery, producer of Makar Gin.
He was supported by Jacobius at Dunnet Bay Distillers, who said customers “drink with their eyes, in the first instance”.
“Therefore, whether it is a complicated new cocktail, a classic or a simple G&T, the garnish and stemware are important,” she said.
“It’s important not to overlook the basics: sparkling glassware, large ice-cubes and plenty of them, a glass that is chilled, plus a glass appropriate to the cocktail.
“Having got these first steps right, pre-preparing elegant garnishes and ‘dressing’ each drink appropriately takes a cocktail from good to great.
“People form an instant view of how the drink will taste from the way it appears so providing visual clues as to the taste notes by adding an appropriate garnish helps the overall experience.
“It takes little time to execute but a little thought before service makes all the difference and can really help with margins as people recognise a professionally mixed cocktail is something they perhaps couldn’t create at home.
“Along with great gin and good quality mixers, the garnish is the third element that really matters to consumers.”
And Penman at Ian Macleod Distillers said any drinks list should factor in “Instagrammability” and theatre of serve.
“With one in five consumers saying they post pictures of their cocktails on social media more than ever before, creating cocktails and serves that have a bit of theatre around them will be a great way to publicise your menu to the market and encourage more clientele,” said Penman.