How to deliver value in Ireland as prices rise

Ireland’s consumers remain eager to eat and drink out despite rising costs—but they are demanding full value for their spending.
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Those are among a wide range of insights from CGA by NIQ’s latest consumer insights report, which reveals consumers’ latest habits and priorities in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland to help suppliers capitalise on sales opportunities.


Nearly nine in ten (87%) consumers have felt an increase in the cost of living over the last year. Despite this, almost a fifth (18%) plan to increase their visits to the On Premise over the next 12 months, while 58% will keep up the same frequency. Cutting visits is a last resort, as two thirds would feel either disappointed (49%) or lost (17%) if they couldn’t eat or drink out. CGA’s data has shown that this determination to go out has led to strong drinks sales in the first quarter of 2024.


However, money pressures have sharpened consumers’ focus on brands they trust to give them full value for money. Over two in five (44%) say good value is more important to them than it was a year ago, and a fifth (21%) think trustworthiness is a higher priority too. The trend for limiting risk opens up opportunities for longstanding, tried-and-trusted brands—especially local ones.


Ireland’s consumers are chasing value in several more ways. One is by drinking fewer but higher quality drinks on visits to pubs and bars. Asked about how they would allocate their money on a night out, more than half (53%) say they would choose one or two premium drinks, and only 11% would buy four or more lower quality ones. Consumers want to treat themselves when they go out, and 44% say they are likely to pay extra for a better quality drink in the On Premise.


While some consumers are sticking to their favourite drinks, others are switching to categories they perceive to offer more value for money. Nearly a fifth say they plan to buy more soft or hot drinks (19%) or no and low alcohol alternatives (17%) over the next 12 months, with some motivated by health as well as financial reasons.


Changing preferences are working against spirits brands, and more than two in five consumers say they plan to drink less tequila (46%), cognac (43%) and rum (41%). However, spirits sales can still be sustained—especially through cocktails and mixed drinks. CGA’s data has also shown the value of targeting younger consumers, who are typically more resistant to economic challenges, with fewer financial responsibilities and a more liberal attitude towards spending for pleasure.


In other positive news, most consumers accept that rising costs have forced venues to raise menu prices, and are prepared to spend more on their food and drink as a result. They are also clear that value doesn’t always mean cheap—just worth whatever they spend. Two in five perceive value for money as a good deal (44%) or something that is worth its cost (40%)—far more than those who define it as a cheap option (16%).


Sian Brennan, CGA by NIQ’s client director, Ireland, said: “Our consumer research is a timely reminder that the cost of living crisis is far from over in the Republic and Northern Ireland. Rising prices are changing people’s habits in some significant ways, with big implications for category and brand choices. Suppliers need to keep a very close eye on what these trends mean for spending patterns, and deliver consistently good value for money to keep people coming out to eat and drink. Investment in understanding consumers’ behaviour is more important than ever if businesses are to protect market share and seize opportunities.”


CGA by NIQ’s Consumer Insights Report 2024 and other On Premise solutions provide deep insights into consumers’ engagement and purchasing decisions across all On Premise channels, as well as expert analysis of categories, occasions and much more. To learn how CGA’s services can unlock extra consumer spending and grow share, contact Sian Brennan.


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