Aussie consumers growing in confidence on their return to the On Premise, but polarisation begins to set in

The Australian On Premise visitor continues to feel more positive about returning to the channel but different needs are becoming apparent as polarization begins to entrench the consumer mindset
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CGA’s On Premise Consumer Pulse checks in with 750 Australian On Premise visitors every month to understand their recent behaviour, how they feel about the channel (including any COVID-19 restrictions) and their intentions for visits in the month ahead. This month’s research highlights that concerns around COVID-19 have continued to decrease, with plans to visit bars and restaurants on the rise. In fact, a massive 97% of Australian consumers are planning to visit the channel in the next month with an uplift in drink-led occasions expected.

 

In the Australian On Premise, concerns around COVID-19 remain but do appear to be lessening, with only 9% of all consumers visiting the channel less because of the rise in cases, down from 23% last month.

 

While concerns around COVID-19 have lessened in the past month, worries around cost of living have increased somewhat, with more consumers visiting less this month due to having disposable income challenges.

 

Premiumisation does exist for many however, so a balanced strategy focused on both Value and Premium offering is likely beneficial (as seen in other markets further down this recovery path than Australia). ‘Mainstream’ brands sitting between these two positions can become exposed in these situations so communication, in-venue brand awareness and appropriate positioning is essential.

 

For those facing disposable income challenges, promotions can work extremely well to drive footfall, increase dwell time and overall spend. Key for suppliers here is helping operators see the need to appeal to this group of cash-strapped consumers and to actively spend promotional funds where available.

 

At the other end of the spectrum, 58% of Australians say they are now more willing to ‘treat themselves to make up for lost time’ as they return to the channel. This mindset is leading to signs of premiumization, with over a third (35%) purchasing a premium drink option in the past month.

 

Clearly, these consumers represent an opportunity for premium brand, spirits and cocktails which all play well with this consumer mindset. While 59% of consumers are drinking cocktails at the same frequency as they did pre-pandemic, a significant 26% of consumers are drinking cocktails in bars and restaurants more frequently now than before. 58% of On Premise consumers state that they are actually purchasing them on every or most of their visits now.

 

When looking at favourite cocktail styles for Australians, classic cocktails (45%) and signature cocktails (32%) lead the pack when ordering in bars and restaurants.

 

In terms of innovation, pre-batched or draft cocktails could well be the next big thing to hit Australia – two-thirds of consumers are willing to try them with speed of purchase being a main driver of choice. However, most drinkers (70%) expect pre-batched cocktails to attract a lower price point than regular cocktails, which is an important consideration for suppliers when it comes to positioning their offering.

 

Scott Elliott, CGA managing director – Americas & Asia Pacific, said: “Whilst it is clear that the channel is slowly recovering, with some way still to go, many Australian consumers are facing quite different challenges. Those with reduced disposable income need reasons to enter the trade – with events, drinks promotion and transparent pricing tactics likely to help drive footfall.

For those looking to treat themselves, a clear upselling strategy by suppliers and operators which are relevant to a changed Path to Purchase is essential. Although operationally-efficient serves such as draft cocktails are appealing to all, the product, presentation and messaging needs to be strong to maintain quality cues and premium value-for-money perceptions in the eye of the On Premise consumer.”

 

Click here to download the latest Australia Consumer Pulse Report. To learn more about CGA’s consumer research and market measurement services across both Australia and New Zealand, please contact Scott Elliott at scott.elliott@cgastrategy.com

 

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