Recommended for you: The four-way win of bartender investment

Charlie Mitchell, CGA by NIQ research and insight director, explores the value of bartender advocacy and engagement programs, as well as who the winners are.
Download more information

Whether it is discovering new music, visiting new places or even simply scrolling through our social media feeds, automated suggestion seem to have crept into almost every aspect of our lives.


The algorithm-driven recommended for you feature certainly has its merits; the last series that Netflix recommended to me was an absolute a hit, while my latest Discover Weekly on Spotify was banger after banger.


However, no matter how good the AI, the success rate of recommendations is still very dubious to say the least. Humans still do it better; especially in hospitality.


There is, I would argue, no other sector where recommendations are as important. Be it a friend suggestion on where to visit, a waiter suggested special or, crucially, an expertly crafted drink recommendation from a bartender, references and advocacy can make a huge difference to both consumer experiences and choices when out.


And that is why so many brand owners and suppliers/distributors run bartender advocacy or engagement programs, often investing significant sums of money. When done well, the return on investment is greater still, resulting in a four-way win impacting staff, suppliers, venues and, of course, customers.


When a bartender can evaluate likes and dislikes, engage in conversation and create perfectly tailored drinks, suited to the guest, the environment and the needs, it also propels the success of both venues and drinks brands, creating a reciprocal boost in performance and profitability for all involved.


Aside from the elevated staff, the profitable outlet and the winning drinks brands benefitting from staff advocacy and training programmes, it is arguably the 4th win – with consumers that is most beneficial. Guests benefit significantly from a better and more personalised experience on their visit to the on premise, when they are served by engaging, excellently trained and informed bar staff.


Across the world, over a third of consumers say their drink choice is influenced by bartender recommendation, with consumers in some markets more willing to take advice – 59% of British consumers agree that even if they have already decided what to drink, they can still be swayed by bartender recommendation.


Beyond better guest experiences, bartender advocacy also creates trade up opportunities and profitability for the venue. The creation of exciting, innovative serves as well as the social media impact of influential bartenders will often result in a halo impact to drive drink trends far and wide to propel brand growth.


Whether it is online or in person communities, social or networking events, competitions, or education, mentorship or engagement programs – investing in bartenders is an effective way to drive brand sentiment and advocacy among the people who ultimately sell drinks to the consumer. But tracking the success of advocacy programmes can be challenging, and understanding what resonates and what works best remains unclear.


Which is why CGA by NIQ embarked on a global study, gaining feedback from bartenders across the world, working in the most premium parts of the on premise to understand usage and appeal of bartender communities and programs, with fascinating results.


The research revealed that a whopping 71% of bartenders have already interacted with an industry community or engagement program and 56% with a supplier led program. These levels of penetration create a significant challenge to cut through and to stand out from the crowd.


Nearly half (44%) of bartenders also said that they have a pre-set repertoire of brands that they recommend, so differentiating amongst the other brand engagement initiatives is important for getting on to that list of recommendations, or even better, finding ways to support bartenders to be led by the consumer to broaden the range of recommended brands.


By gaining a detailed understanding of the needs, desire for long term career development and challenges of bartenders, as well as their views on existing advocacy programmes, the Global Bartender survey aims to shape brand strategies to maximise the four-way win.


Working in a range of premium and luxury/high-end food led and drink led outlets, nightclubs and hotel bars, 93% of the bartenders CGA by NIQ spoke to agreed that the relationship with bartenders and distributors is important, with 36% saying it will become more important in the future; no doubt due to the unprecedented economic pressures many bars are facing.


With 86% more likely to recommend brands that they have learnt about in training, there has never been a more crucial time for brand owners and suppliers to understand the drivers of a successful bartender advocacy programme and achieve the four-way win – successful bartenders, profitable bars, engaged consumers and brand growth.


CGA’s Global Bartender Report enables suppliers to build stronger relationships with venues, optimise the positioning of products and gain a competitive edge. Key topics include: the bar career and challenges, the importance of supplier relationships, usage and appeal of communities/programs, the growth of social media in bartending, driving brand advocacy and recommendations and staying ahead of drink trends. The report covers major markets including UK (United Kingdom), USA, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Australia, South Korea, Canada, and Mexico. To learn more about the research, contact Charlie Mitchell, CGA by NIQ’s senior consumer research executive, here.


Recent posts:

Share post


Subscribe to our newsletter

Access the latest On Premise news and reports by signing up below.