Tailored beverage offers across events help drive spend in U.S. Sports Bars

CGA’s Channel Strategy Report reveals the key opportunistic links between tailoring beverage offerings around sporting events in sports bars to maximize sales and increase consumer engagement

Enticing drinks offers needed for cautious consumers 

Sports bars and stadiums have recently been welcoming back events at full capacity and it has seen a much-needed alleviation of pressure off the back of what has been a limiting season. Sports bars pre-COVID-19 were visited by 1 in 4 consumers and are an undeniably important On Premise channel. However, sports bars saw a knock in confidence from consumers over returning to these channels in the early days of reopening, versus traditional food-led outlets. Providing compelling food and drink offers with sporting events can help bars increase engagement, visitation and remind consumers of the feeling of spectating with allies (and opponents). 


The study reveals football is by far the most popular sport for spectators in sports bars (71%), followed by basketball (40%) and baseball (40%). Key events across the sporting calendar in partnership with alcoholic brands, or bucket deals could further grow audience levels in sports bars. It is important to get consumers back into venues to remind them of the atmosphere gained from visiting sports bars versus staying at home. But when they have become far too familiar with purchasing in the Off-Premise, offers will need to be sufficiently enticing to encourage that initial spend.


Event daypart influencing category and beverage choice 

Both UFC and boxing attract a younger audience, so sports bars should focus publicity for these events to this demographic and capture drinks brands which are perhaps more adventurous than the key beer brands more closely associated with football. Those visiting for food-led occasions are more likely to watch baseball, reflecting the slower pace of play and presenting an opportunity to offering pairing deals for drinks and food in venues. Whereas drink-led offers are better positioned for those who are watching soccer and boxing.   


The daypart of sporting events has an impact on which offers and categories are best placed, the data suggests. Key dayparts in sports bars are the early evening (54%) and mid-afternoon (25%) as visitation is generally at its highest then. However, these are likely to intersect with different sports. Mid-afternoon sports could have the greatest opportunity for golf spectators, which caters to a different palate than early evening visitors who are more commonly watching football or basketball. 


When looking specifically at takeout/delivery from sports bars, UFC and boxing are focus areas for promotions. Cocktail sports bar drinkers are also much more likely to order (20%) or consider ordering (30%) takeout/ delivery from a sports bar. Having suitable cocktail options for delivery is a key sales pitch and could prove a successful way to encourage purchase.  


Mobile sports betting leverage spend and visitation 

CGA recently delved into utilizing sports betting to increase investment when visiting sports bars. 70% of On Premise visitors would be likely to order more drinks if they are watching a sports event they bet on versus one they did not. Future changes to legislation should be mobilized where possible to combine drinks offers and develop a more sustained visit.  


Andrew Hummel, Client Solutions Manager – Americas, points out that “Beer is currently the dominant drink category within Sports Bars, however, the popularity of mobile sports betting creates more celebratory occasions which are correlated to spirit and shot consumption. The combination of bettors’ higher propensity to spend and introduction of new celebratory occasions results in a huge opportunity for spirit suppliers and operators alike.” 


CGA’s Channel Strategy Research covers consumers from 11 channels in a core and deep dive offering. To find out more about CGA’s channel strategy research and how it can assist in positioning your brand or category in different channels, please contact Matthew Crompton at Matthew.Crompton@cgastrategy.com  


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