Five big choice factors in Ireland’s drinks market

COVID-19 has triggered some crucial changes in the way consumers select drinks in Ireland’s On Premise—and suppliers and operators need to work closely together to respond.

Here are five of the key considerations to help maximise spend and return visits as drinking-out settles into a new normal.

 

1 Digital

Safety concerns have led many consumers to choose digital drinks selection and ordering over face-to-face contact. Although 59% would prefer to interact with staff to book, order and pay, 41% would prefer to use technology to do so—and more than a third (37%) now say they prefer digital menus to physical ones. While some consumers will return to physical interaction when COVID-19 restrictions ease, for others the adoption of technology in drinking-out will be permanent. This puts pressure on operators to optimise digital drinks menus, without compromising staff engagement with guests. Suppliers also have a big opportunity to influence choices along these new digital paths to purchase.

 

2 Quality

A third (33%) of consumers say it is now more important to them that their drink is high quality than it was before COVID-19—and a fifth (21%) are likely to pay extra for one when they return to the On Premise. Consumers returning to the market clearly have high expectations, and many will be seeking to reward themselves with higher quality drinks after months away from pubs and bars. This treat mentality will extend the premiumisation trend, and opens the door to trade-ups.

 

3 Value

Alongside this preference for quality is a growing focus on value—especially among people who have been hit financially by the pandemic. Just over a third (36%) of consumers now say good value is more important in their drinking-out than it was before COVID-19. This means drinks choice is likely to be increasingly polarised between quality and value, which makes good pricing ladders crucial.

 

4 Trust

After so long in lockdown, many consumers are returning to the drinks they know. With more than a quarter (27%) saying trustworthy drinks are more important to them than pre-COVID-19, menus will need to prioritise familiar brands. Trial is likely to increase as people get used to drinking out again, but for now tried-and-trusted names are in the driving seat.

 

5 Range

Consumer polarisation and pressures on costs and staffing means effective ranging strategies have never been more important for operators and suppliers. There are signs that selections will reduce, with well over half (58%) of operators suggesting that having a rationalised drinks menu will be fundamental or important to their business once the On Premise is fully reopened. However, just under half of consumers think range of drinks will contribute towards a good experience—so there is a risk of reducing choice to far. Finding the right balance will be key, because when range hits the mark, consumers are more likely to return and recommend.

 

Figures are taken from CGA’s REACH survey of consumers in Ireland. To learn how data and insights from the survey can support the ranging, pricing and marketing strategies of all drinks suppliers and operators in Ireland, email Sian Brennan, Client Director at sian.brennan@cgastrategy.com

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