Despite a slight let-up since last month, the cost-of-living crisis remains the key factor for the reduced frequency of visits this month for two thirds of consumers. In addition, over half of consumers are eating and drinking out less due to price increases in the On Premise, while half say they’ve got less disposable income than usual.
But there’s much cause for optimism. On Premise visits head the list of things consumers are planning to prioritise for spending above all other discretional options, beating off clothing, holidays, home improvements and vehicles to the top spot. Pubs are at the forefront of this continued loyalty.
The year-on-year like-for-like sales growth of pubs has consistently eclipsed the total market throughout 2023 to date, affirming the place pubs occupy in the hearts and minds of consumers. But it’s no time for operators to rest on their laurels. On the contrary, the present is ripe for operators to understand how to deliver top tier service to retain existing customers and attract new ones.
Of the key factors that keep pub visitors coming back for more, female consumers value a warm welcome (60%), friendliness (56%), a comfortable environment (52%), and safety (49%). Whereas their male counterparts are attracted by the same factors, in the same order, to a slightly lesser degree.
But the value consumers place on these factors varies massively by their urbanicity. For example, those in more rural settings place higher value on the friendliness of the venue, and acknowledge the importance of a good landlord or landlady behind the bar. On the other hand, the more urban a consumer is, the higher the importance placed on a lively atmosphere, and the quality of drinks and overall experience.
In terms of experience, there’s a strong desire these days for more than a quick pint in pubs. 42% of consumers find live music appealing, 39% prefer a separate kids’ dining area, and 38% look for dog friendly pubs, reflecting the importance of striking the right balance so as not to alienate any valuable consumer groups.
So then, what factors are influencing food and drinks choices in pubs? Consumer drinks choices are highly influenced by price, with over half prioritising good value for money when they’re at the bar. 24% like to see pub teams get the serve and presentation of their preferred tipples right. Food pairings are also a consideration for around a fifth of pub-goers.
What’s more, the appetite amongst consumers for higher quality products in pubs is clear, with 61% saying they’re likely to pay more for higher quality food, and 50% saying they’d be willing to pay more for higher quality drinks. This appetite for premiumisation amongst consumers in pubs represents a compelling window of opportunity for optimising sales and boosting brand equity via creative product ranges and supplier partnerships.
Danielle Rowlands, Client Business Partner said: “Despite a difficult couple of years and several closures, pubs have been forced to adapt in a way that many other sectors haven’t. Originally borne from necessity, operators have been proactive and innovative to not just stay open and trading, but also to compete with emerging sectors like competitive socialising. Now, the market results show how effective this has been, highlighting how intrinsic the pub is to British consumers, and the real appeal for left-field activities and non-traditional events to create experiences and memories within the community.”
PubTrack is a revolutionary consumer research tool providing insight into the total GB pub market. Powered by CGA’s Outlet Index, perceptions and behaviours across the entire pub landscape can be analysed with total flexibility, offering a unique opportunity for operators to analyse their consumers, their competitors and the wider pub universe.