How can licensees stay ahead of the competition in 2018?
THIS MONTH WE ASKED SOME OF THE KEY PEOPLE IN THE TRADE TO TELL US THEIR PREDICTIONS AND VIEWPOINT ON THE YEAR AHEAD. THANKS TO:
Andrew Morrison, Sales Director, MAXXIUM UK; John Gemmell, Commercial Director, HEINEKEN (pictured); UK; Stuart Ellis, UK Sales Manager, Gordon & MacPhail; James Byrne, Retail Development Manager, Molson Coors; Steve Anand, Sales Director, Inverarity Morton; Alan Hay, Sales Director On-Trade, Tennent’s; Peter Risk, Senior National Account Manager, Diageo; Harry Greenhalgh, On-Trade Category Manager, William Grant & Sons UK Ltd. This is what they had to say:-
WHAT SHOULD LICENSEES DO TO KEEP AHEAD OF THE COMPETITION IN 2018?
ANDREW MORRISON: Understand what consumers need and what the consumer trends and drinking trends are not just now…but on the horizon. Never compromise on customer serve and retail standards and invest in staff training – they are the biggest influence in your bar.
JOHN GEMMELL: Have a very clear digital strategy. The world is changing fast. We used to say that the customer journey started outside of the pub, but it is now often on the phone. It is not enough to just have a website or Facebook site, you need to have a clear plan on how to capture customer insight and convert it in to a trading advantage. Taking advantage of true customer intimacy can be enhanced by technology.
STUART ELLIS: Continually reviewing products across all categories and being aware of what’s hot and what’s not, utilising the research and knowledge offered up by their suppliers is key to ‘keeping ahead of the curve’, these guys are there to help. As well as having a ‘core’ range of product, it’s important to keep each category fresh by continually reviewing new entrants to the market and understanding what their point of difference is and what that allows you to offer your consumers. Being independent makes you nimble and able to react to ‘new’ in vogue products quicker than the national competition.
JAMES BYRNE: Consumers are going out less, but spending more when they do. Offering drinkers a range of products across categories can ensure repeat purchases. Ensuring the experience is high quality can also encourage word of mouth; ensuring draught products are looked after with regular line cleaning and are served in a clean, branded glass.
STEVE ANAND: Licensees should continue to look at range and offer serves and experiences that customers cannot easily replicate at home.
HARRY GREENHALGH: With people facing growing economic pressure on their disposable income, they want to make sure they really enjoy their experiences when they do choose to spend. So getting the drinks offer right is key, especially with premiumising consumer tastes, but looking at other aspects of your offer, from food to activities and service, is also important.
ALAN HAY: Drinkers are discerning, knowing what they like, but often open to trying something different. When it comes to ranging, it’s about striking a balance between staples like Tennent’s Lager, Magners and Caledonia Best but also having options from around the world like Heverlee, Menabrea or Pabst Blue Ribbon.
PETER RISK: With consumers increasingly demanding better quality experiences, delivering superior service is now crucial to driving incremental sales. Under-par staff training or bar set-up not only affects profits but can also result in poor quality drinks and customer dissatisfaction. Improving staff knowledge, speed and efficiency will allow licensees to deliver a smooth service each and every time, to enhance customer experience and drive sales.
Consumers are increasingly interested in provenance, ingredients and the stories behind products and brands. They also seek out options which offer some form of customisation or combinations that they might not expect to see. The spirits category is able to tap into all of these – it is full of possibilities and therefore offers a real opportunity for licensees to drive spend in their pub or bar. Licensees can ensure that their outlet exceeds their competitor’s offering and make the most of any occasion by stocking up on must-stock premium variants as well as a wide range of the best-selling brands.
With 84% of UK adults using social media and with lots of people using the internet to find a venue, having an online presence has never been more important. As well as using it to recruit new customers who are looking for inspiration on where to go, digital channels are great for engaging with customers and getting feedback on your offer, all in a very cost effective way.
2018 will see several key sporting events including the Winter Olympics, Rugby Six Nations, Commonwealth Games and FIFA World Cup – providing a profitable opportunity to drive customers into outlets. Licensees can inspire customers by shouting about sporting events with promotions in-outlet and with the help of social media ahead of the fixtures. Taking table bookings or advertising sports packages in advance is a simple but effective way of positioning pubs as a sporting venues during these key periods.