Canada’s On Premise: 2023 Year in Review

2023 represented a year of transition for the Canadian On Premise, creating many opportunities for beverage suppliers and brands to drive brand growth and sales in the market.
Download the 2023 Year in Review infographic

However, 2023 also encountered lingering obstacles to growth, including the continuous recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, and cost of living pressures having an impact on consumers’ behaviours and spending.  


Over the course of the year, CGA by NIQ’s On Premise Impact Reports had been tracking consumer preferences, behaviours, and opinions, keeping a pulse on key trends and topics and the impact these have on the channel. 


Producing a total of 25 sales reports and 12 consumer reports, CGA by NIQ have provided clients with year-round insights to the channel. Here’s a look at what CGA by NIQ’s On Premise Impact Reports explored in 2023:  



Non-Alcohol Consumption on the rise  

The On Premise has seen a proportion of consumers increasing their non-alcoholic drink consumption, supported by rising availability of brands within the category across bars and restaurants. 37% of consumers wo have been drinking non-alcoholic beverages have been drinking more mocktails (37%), and non-alcoholic spirits (36%) in 2023 compared to the previous year. 


Consumers switching categories   

Exploring category consumption, overall, the majority of consumers were drinking their respective categories the same vs a year ago, however 1 in 4 consumers are drinking beer less vs YA, while consumers who were drinking wine less often was due to the price.  

Spirits was the top category consumers have increased their consumption in (20%), driven by consumers actively trying cocktails and experimenting with new spirits brands.   


New drinking guidelines not changing behaviour  

The majority of On Premise users were aware of the new drinking guidelines released by Health Canada in 2023. Following this new guidance, consumers stated their drink consumption was unlikely to change (78%), their visitation frequency would not be impacted (67%), and they would continue visiting bars and restaurants. 


Food pairing opportunities   

For 4 in 10 consumers, drink choice can be influenced by the food they are eating, and 54% of consumers are likely to switch categories if it pairs better with the food. Using menus that provide pairing suggestions with food, is a way brand and venues can influence drinks choice during food-led visits.  


Opportunities for key dates and occasions  

There are opportunities throughout the year to maximise on key dates, events, and occasions in the On Premise – it’s clear they can have a significant impact on sales velocity. This year, major occasions such as Valentine’s Day, Canada Day, Father’s Day, and the Formula 1 Grand Prix helped contribute to velocity uplifts.  


A third of consumers visited local neighbourhood bars and restaurants to watch the Stanley Cup Playoffs this year, and 2 in 5 consumers visited the channel on Valentine’s Day (+122% velocity).  


Cost of living impacts on consumer behaviour  

 CGA’s On Premise Sales Impact Report found that 7 in 10 consumers are still visiting the channel the same or more often than usual.  


When exploring velocity levels vs 2022, data shows that total Canada is remaining slightly ahead of 2022 levels (+3%).  At individual province levels, British Columbia (+4%) and Alberta’s (+5%) velocity levels were higher than 2022, with Ontario (-2%) and Quebec (-2%) slightly behind.  


Changing paths to purchase  

Touchpoints throughout the consumer journey, both before and in-venue, continue to influence consumer drink choice. Research found that 39% of consumers decide their drink choice before the visit, whilst 34% check a venue’s drinks menu online and 28% check a venues social media before visits.    


Premium vs value brand purchasing  

A notable proportion of consumers have been purchasing more premium drinks and brands compared to a year ago. Among consumers who have been drinking premium drink/brand categories, whiskey (46%), tequila (40%) and vodka (40%) have been popular choices.  


Almost two thirds of consumers haven’t changed their drink choices compared to a year ago. Just 1 in 10 have cut back on their consumption of premium drinks. This underlines the key role On Premise venues play in enabling consumers to trade-up and indulge more than they may in the Off Premise. 


Seasonality and drink choice  

Changing seasons doesn’t just impact the weather, it can also influence consumer preferences in the On Premise. Over half of consumers change their drink choice depending on the season (56%), with 1 in 4 sticking to the same category but switch type.  


There’s a clear shift in preferences during Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter, with categories such as Beer (38%), and hard seltzers (36%) becoming more popular in warmer months, and Whiskey (32%) and Rum (31%) the favourites during wintertime. 


The influence of the bartender   

Bartenders and servers play a vital part in the smooth-running of avenue, however the influence they have on a consumers can be easily overlooked.  


Around half of consumers will ask bartenders and servers for recommendations at least some of the time when visiting the On Premise. The likelihood a consumer will ask for staff recommendations varies by category; something to consider when building out advocacy programs for different brands.   


Find out more about how CGA by NIQ’s On Premise Impact Reports can help you gain a clearer understanding of the Canadian On Premise. 


Tried and trusted within the global BevAl industry, CGA by NIQ’s On Premise Impact Reports provide leading data and insights derived from our best-in-class tools. Exploring both consumer and sales data, the reports provide an up-to-date view of the On Premise landscape, allowing you to leverage opportunities within the industry. 


To subscribe, contact Mitch Stefani, Client Solutions Director at   

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