Winning in Australia’s On Premise: Seven CGA insights

Australia’s On Premise is in good shape in 2023, but there are plenty of opportunities for more growth and some key challenges to overcome.
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CGA by NIQ’s James Phillips gave an expert overview of the sector at the recent Australian Pub Leaders Summit—and here are seven of his insights to help suppliers and operators thrive. 


1 Record sales and double-digit growth 

Australia’s On Premise has rebounded very strongly since the COVID-19 pandemic. Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows sales in the café, restaurant and takeaway food sectors hit their highest ever level in May, with year-on-year growth of 14.7%. This compares very favourably to other consumer industries like electronics, where sales were down by 7.4%. 


2 Strong demand for pubs 

Growth is echoed in CGA’s exclusive On Premise User Survey (OPUS), which shows well over half (55%) of consumers have visited a pub at least once in the last three months. CGA’s Outlet Index highlights the resilience of the channel, with a 0.6% net increase in pub sites between March and July—a much stronger performance than bars (down 2.6%), casual dining restaurants (down 4.5%) and nightclubs (down 7.4%). 


3 High business confidence 

This positivity is reflected in business leaders’ confidence in Australia. Four in five (80%) say they are very or fairly optimistic about prospects for the hospitality sector over the next 12 months—exactly level with the average in CGA’s surveys globally. 


4 Value a priority 

More than two thirds (68%) of consumers surveyed stated that value for money is a leading factor in their choice of venue—making it the top priority ahead of food quality (66%), service (56%) and range (53%). Half (50%) say price is a key factor when choosing drinks, though happy hour deals (31%) and menus (31%) can be powerful too. 


5 Beer the number one drink 

Domestic beer remains the most popular choice among Australia’s pub drinkers, with 35% buying it in the last three months—putting it well clear of soft drinks (26%) and still wine (20%). But while demand for big domestic brands remains high, numbers favouring craft and imported categories have dropped over the last year. Among consumers aged 18-34 across the total On Premise, they favour Vodka as the preferred category, followed second by Cocktails.  


6 Start-ups and street food on the rise 

CGA by NIQ’s research in other countries provides clues to what might come next in Australia’s On Premise. The global REACH study shows 44% of business leaders expect to see more entrants to the market than in 2022—and with 57% of consumers planning to visit street food operators, pop-up markets or food and drink festivals this year, a lot of the new competition could come from mobile operators and precinct venues that cater to different occasions and preferences like Sydney’s Coogee Pavilion Precinct. 


7 Cost and staffing challenges continue 

While there is widespread confidence in Australia’s On Premise, rising costs and staffing issues threaten growth. More than four in five (86%) operators say rising costs are a significant challenge, while three quarters (75%) face recruitment and retention problems. Staff shortages are also found in many other countries, and they are pushing up pay—by an average of 11% in the last 12 months in Britain. 


CGA by NIQ’s unrivalled coverage of the On Premise includes many more powerful consumer insights from the exclusive REACH and OPUS surveys. The Outlet Index and BeverageTrak solutions meanwhile provide in-depth tracking of outlets and sales across Australia, and bartender research adds expert views from behind the bar. To learn more about the suite of research sources and opportunities for tailored analysis to help all On Premise businesses grow sales and share, contact James Phillips, CGA by NIQ client solutions director, ANZ, at 


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