Seven steps to a happy Christmas in the On Premise

As festive occasions get into full swing, drinks suppliers and operators have a great chance to generate trial and loyalty. But what do consumers really want when they drink out in December?

CGA by NIQ’s Paul Bolton, Client Director –GB Drinks, draws on insights from their OPUS and OPM solutions to highlight some of the key trends to follow and the levers that brands can pull to gain sales and share. Here are seven of the big opportunities:


1 Hit the sweet spot of quality and value 

While CGA by NIQ’s data has shown a pattern of fewer visits to the On Premise in 2023, these occasions have generally seen a stable or increased spend. This means consumers are drinking less, but drinking better. They are demanding value, but it’s vital to remember that this doesn’t necessarily mean cheap—just a good return on whatever money is spent. Finding the right balance of quality and value is going to be key this Christmas.  


2 Tap into the treat mentality 

For those consumers with money to spend, Christmas is an ideal time to generate trade-ups. Last year two in five (39%) consumers say they upgraded a drink because they want a treat—much more than the numbers who did so because they were influenced by friends (23%) or bar staff (20%). This treat mentality opens the door to premiumisation—though the quality and value still have to be right. 


3 Find opportunities in mulled cider and festive twists 

Mulled wine has long been a staple of December drinking-out, and 25% of consumers told CGA’s Christmas Report that they find it appealing. But other variants are rising too, with 14% attracted by mulled cider—a year-on-year increase of seven percentage points—and 14% think festive versions of classic cocktails are appealing too. Putting Christmas twists on year-round favourites can be an effective way to drive trade-ups. 


4 Harness the power of markets 

Festive markets and pop-up bars are increasingly important sources of drinks sales—and they can drive consumers into the traditional On Premise as well. A quarter (25%) of consumers visited a Christmas market in 2022, four percentage points more than the previous year, and numbers are likely to increase again this year. Brand recognition is an important factor in consumers’ purchases at markets, with brands from different categories benefiting, such as cream liqueurs, cider wine and soft drinks.  


5 Encourage experimentation 

Interest in these variations is part of an attitude of experimentation over Christmas. Half (50%) of consumers say they are likely or very likely to try different drinks when they drink out over the festive period. Visibility at the bar, deals and staff recommendations can all help to drive people towards new choices. 


6 Don’t forget the core categories 

While Christmas brings surges in celebratory or festive drinks, mainstream categories remain the most popular. More than a quarter (29%) of consumers bought lager last Christmas, making it the top pick ahead of soft drinks (27%) and red wine (20%). 


7 Use Christmas is a springboard into 2024 

Brands that gain equity in December can reap the benefits well after the festivities have ended. Nearly nine in ten (86%) consumers say they are likely or very likely to repurchase new drinks brands that they have tried over the festive period, making this a great springboard into 2024.   


Christmas can be a make-or-break time for the year in the On Premise, and after tough trading conditions through the first 11 months, businesses will be hoping consumers will loosen their spending. We can be cautiously optimistic about ending the year with solid real-terms growth, but it will be vital to understand the very latest consumer behaviour and preferences, and go above their increasingly high expectations of quality, value and experience. 


CGA by NIQ’s suite of research services combines in-depth consumer research and sales data to provide an unrivalled 360-degree view of the On Premise and drinking out. It helps drinks suppliers, wholesalers and venue operators deepen their understanding of guests and pinpoint sales and engagement by brand, segment, channel, occasion and much more. For more information email 

Recent posts:

Share post


Subscribe to our newsletter

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