Winning drinks sales in Ireland’s restaurants and hotels: Five CGA insights

The Consumer Insight Report from CGA by NIQ reveals how drinks suppliers can secure extra sales and share in Ireland’s restaurants and hotels, despite a recent decline in rate of sale.
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The exclusive research shows these two channels account for a combined 18.9% of Ireland’s Long Alcoholic Drinks (LAD) sales by volume. However, their share has fallen by 0.8 percentage points in the last 12 months, as some consumers switch to drink-led pubs and bars.  


However, CGA’s Consumer Insight Report 2024 highlights plenty of opportunities to grow restaurant and hotel sales in all drinks categories, especially when paired with volume and sales measurement. 


Here are just five of the many insights to help suppliers adapt to consumers’ habits and secure trial and loyalty in hotels and restaurants across Ireland: 


1 Restaurants gain spirits share

While their share of LAD sales has fallen (-1.4 percentage points), restaurants have fared much better with spirits in the last 12 months. Their split of volumes in the category increased by 1.4 percentage points to 12.2%—partly at the expense of bars, which lost 1.2 points. Across the market spirits have gained visibility through cocktail listings on menus outside of wet-led channels while LAD brands have traditionally relied on bar and fridge facings—so new path-to-purchase strategies may be needed in the hotel channel.


2 ROS better in Ireland’s cities

CGA’s regional breakdowns show LAD brands have performed better in city-centre restaurants than in more rural areas. While distribution in Dublin and Cork has contracted, rate of sale here has increased by 2.4% and 1.6% over the last year, but it has dropped by 11.9% in the Rest of Munster. This highlights the need to tailor LAD strategies from region to region. Local and suburban restaurants can also be valuable spaces to engage consumers with drinks brands on regular low-tempo visits.


3 Lager the most popular LAD in hotels

Within the LAD category, CGA’s research indicates that lager remains the most popular choice, despite losing share to stout and ale in the past 12 months. Nearly a quarter of consumers choose it on visits to hotels (23%) and casual meals (21%). Suppliers will have to stay right on top of consumers’ preferences to stand out in such a competitive category. Lager sales typically rise in line with the temperatures, so summer will be a great time for suppliers and operators to cement loyalty, develop new brands and innovate.


4 Stout and No/Low gaining most share

Although lager remains the top choice, stout has delivered the best growth. Over the last year it increased its share of LAD category volumes in hotels and restaurants by 1.2 and 1.7 percentage points respectively. Low and no alcohol brands have been another category winner, gaining 0.6 percentage points of LAD share in restaurants, outpacing growth in bars (+0.5pp) and pubs (+0.3pp). Understanding the motivations held by consumers with changing purchasing decisions is crucial for winning spend in hotels and restaurants.


5 Staff, menus and recommendations all key to purchase

Understanding guests’ paths to purchase in hotels and restaurants is vital if suppliers are to influence decision-making. While bar purchases are still most popular in hotels, 39% of guests prefer to order at a table from a server, and this number rises to 68% and 58% in formal and casual dining restaurants. Working with venues to secure menu listings and support from waiting staff can substantially improve brand visibility in all these channels. With 26% of people selecting drinks based on recommendations from friends or family, positive word of mouth is crucial too.


Katie Lawton, CGA by NIQ’s senior client manager, Ireland, said: “Although hotels and restaurants have lost drinks sales share lately, they remain vital channels for all suppliers and brands. Our research makes it clear that collaboration with hotels and restaurants on activations, staff advocacy and food-and-drink pairings is essential, but campaigns need to be carefully tailored to channels and locations. The knowledge of precisely when, why and how people interact with drinks categories, and the tactics that are needed to meet their need states, are the ideal foundation for successful strategies in restaurants and hotels.”


The Consumer Insights Report uses data from CGA’s REACH study to explore consumer behaviour in Northern and the Republic of Ireland, empowering drinks brands and operators to understand how consumer attitudes, motivations and need states are driving On Premise behaviours & category dynamics. Click here to download more information, or get in touch with Katie Lawton here.

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