HEINEKEN UK knows that nobody knows your business better than you do.
But as hospitality operators juggle pressure and uncertainty caused by the Covid pandemic, the pub, cider and beer company wants to show its support by reminding you of ways that you can navigate the restrictions and future-proof your business by diversifying and engaging with the community to boost revenue.
You’ll also find some tips on how to ready your business for Christmas.
We recognise that much of this you will already know and we don’t wish to state the obvious, but a wee reminder does no harm because we’re sure you’ll agree that it’s easy to lose focus at the moment.
Far more than just a watering hole, 95% of consumers believe pubs and bars play an important role in their community. Now is the time to appeal to different demographics, such as young mums and elderly groups, by offering them space to meet during quieter times. You could host coffee mornings or lunch clubs – consider your layout and offering to ensure a warm, welcoming and safe environment, and communicate via your website and across social media channels to help spread the word.
With a greater proportion of consumers working from home, there is an opportunity to appeal to remote workers, tired of seeing the same four walls every day. Entice people into your venue for a change of scenery by creating a designated quiet area, providing free Wi-Fi and offering a range of tea, coffee and soft drinks. Don’t be afraid to set some guidelines, such as timeslots, but ensure you communicate these clearly through POS and digital comms.
More people are keen to support local, so it’s important to engage them through social media (paid-for and organic) and traditional marketing (A-boards, signage and leaflet drops). You can refer to our Keg Talks podcasts for further advice, or why not take ideas from the Inspirational Stories hosted on The Pub Collective?
The rise of no and low is hardly news, but the current restrictions elevate the opportunities that come with serving zero alcohol. Now worth £8M in Scotland, the no and low alcohol sector has been crucial to ensure consumers moderating their alcohol consumption feel part of the occasion. Now this inclusivity stretches beyond those typically moderating, as options up to 0.5%ABV mean you can continue to offer the on trade experience but without the alcohol.
Quality and serve needn’t be compromised, such as zero alcohol on draught, mocktails or create-your-own perfect zero-alcohol G&T so the experience remains better than anything your customers can get at home.
Start your range with recognised brands such as Heineken 0.0 and Old Mout Alcohol Free to drive volume, and ensure you have an offering across all categories: beer, cider, spirits and wine. Your customers don’t want to compromise either, as they still remain category loyal when moderating. No and low alternatives deliver a higher RSP than soft drinks, meaning more money in your till.
Heineken 0.0 is the number one no and low alcohol brand in Scotland, across both volume and value. As 90% of beer and cider sold is on draught and it commands a higher price than packaged, HEINEKEN SmartDispense™ Blade is the quickest and easiest way to give your customers the same experience of a freshly poured pint but without the alcohol. With no installation, maintenance or line cleaning required, the plug and pour Blade technology serves consistently cold, high quality pints and the keg stays fresh for 30 days once tapped, with no added preservatives. Through Star Pubs & Bars, HEINEKEN has been able to prove that stocking Heineken 0.0 in both packaged and draught format deliver 133% uplift in volume sales versus selling packaged alone.
Premiumisation is still prevalent – drinks like Old Mout Berries & Cherries Alcohol Free, the fastest growing no and low alcohol cider in the Scottish on-trade, appeal to cider drinkers looking for a more premium option. Since the majority of moderation and premium adult soft drinks options are in packaged format, you have an opportunity to experiment with different products at a lower risk, thanks to smaller volumes and longer shelf lives. With the extensive range of non-alcoholic products now available, consider building your range with trials of ‘guest’ products in small order quantities. Select brands or flavours not typically available from the supermarket to encourage customer experimentation and trade up. You may discover a new favourite for your permanent range.
Technology & Support
In line with government regulations, it’s important you continue to meet social distancing and hygiene standards. There are a range of new technology solutions on the market, such as Swifty. This payment, loyalty and reservation app facilitates contactless payment and can be used to drive footfall, loyalty and spend in your venue. For HEINEKEN Direct and SmartDispense™ customers, Swifty is completely free for the first four months via the HEINEKEN Buying Club which offers access to leading tools and services at discounted prices. Save an estimated £5,000 per year, with more suppliers being added. What’s more, you no longer need to shop around and negotiate the best prices, leaving you time to focus on more important things – like your customers.
In the current climate, you can also use technology to train your staff remotely and flexibly during quieter trading periods. Hello BEER is a mobile app designed to allow operators to maintain staff engagement, while reducing wastage costs from improved cellar management to beer and cider pouring best practice – ultimately helping you sell more great quality pints, making your outlet more profitable.
These are extremely challenging times, but we continue to be inspired by the resilience of operators across the country. At HEINEKEN, we believe whole-heartedly in the pub and the central role it plays in our communities. As we navigate the new climate together, we will continue to support one another in safeguarding our dynamic hospitality industry, both in Scotland and across the whole of the UK.
Christmas 2020: How to prepare for the December trading period
There is likely to be consumer demand to get together and make the most of the Christmas season assuming restrictions allow it of course, and here are some further tips on how you can do this.
Consumers recognised operators’ hard work in creating a safe environment after the first lockdown, which grew their confidence and translated into sales in August and September. While one in four consumers are confident about visiting the on-trade this Christmas, it’s important to encourage those still unsure and therefore incentivise them to visit in December.
- Planning and Preparation
Every trading day is important, but last year six out of the top ten trading days for wet sales were in December and the first weekend of December 2019 saw sales higher than the previous three years. Mad Friday (the Friday before Christmas Day) had the biggest single day sales in 2019 and were 36% higher than the previous Friday; clearly this is a huge moment to boost revenue.
- Promote and Advertise. Ensure your venue and Christmas menu is well advertised on your website and amplified via social channels like Facebook, Instagram, and online marketplace platforms to help consumers find out about your festive offering . Consider including imagery to attract attention and bring your offering to life. Over half of consumers who tried new drinks last Christmas were influenced to do so because of promotions and advertisements, so be sure to utilise menu mechanics like featuring images, cocktail descriptors or food-pairing recommendations, as well as communicating specials or deals via chalkboards, to guide consumers towards margin-enhancing drinks offers.
- Adapt – every challenge is an opportunity. Organise your tables and sittings in line with the latest guidelines for your area and early curfew (if applicable) to maximise capacity and revenue. Consider expanding your window of opportunity, by catering to new occasions like brunch or afternoon tea. You can even implement dynamic pricing strategies, such as splitting Sunday-Wednesday and Thursday-Saturday, or offer incentives for off-peak bookings to fill quieter periods.
- Building Consumer Confidence
While many consumers are looking for a return to normality, 45% still do not feel confident about visiting on-trade venues. It’s vital to implement and communicate strategies that will strike a balance between enjoying the festivities they’re used to and making them feel at ease this Christmas.
- Contactless Payment & Table Service. Meet new social distancing and hygiene standards by employing valuable technology solutions. Eliminating the need for physical contact, Swifty is a new payment, loyalty and reservation app that will allow customers to view your Christmas menus, order and pay at the table, as well as book in advance. You can also gather insights into your customers’ purchasing behaviour by monitoring peak sales periods, buying preferences and demographic information. This will help you stay agile in meeting consumer demand in December.
- Pre-Ordering & Pre-Booking. A fifth of consumers are more likely to pre-book for festive occasions this year than last, and 13% would pay more for a pre-ordered meal over the Christmas period. Having a robust booking system in place that allows consumers to pre-book and pre-order will help you deliver a seamless customer experience and manage both the covers and space in your venue effectively. Reassure your customers by providing flexible booking T&Cs where possible.
- Quality. Customers are willing to spend more at Christmas, so the quality of your drinks, venue and overall atmosphere is critical. Having Covid-19 safety precautions in place and venues’ hygiene / cleanliness levels topped the list of important factors boosting guests’ confidence and driving decisions on where to visit. Reassure customers you have a strong handle on health and safety, while implementing a good cellar management routine to ensure the drinks served are tip-top – after all, we know a great quality drink inspires return visits.
- Hello BEER is a mobile training app that can support you with pouring best practice as well as reducing wastage costs and maintaining staff engagement.
- Festive Sparkle
Consumers are now more than ever looking for a high-quality experience, so it pays to offer the right food, drinks and overall experience to encourage them to choose your venue and return when the festive period is over.
- Expensive Tastes. Consumers are willing to pay more and try new drinks at Christmas; 40% expect a wider range of drinks and 32% are more likely to pay for better quality, so push them into trading up across categories. Spirits prove popular over the weekend, while continental premium and premium 4% lagers enjoy an increase in sales during the festive season – consider stocking leading brands like Amstel and Birra Moretti, the fastest growing beer brand in the UK over the last three years. Don’t forget those moderating, by offering no and low alcohol options like Heineken 0.0 (the number one no and low alcohol brand) and Old Mout Alcohol Free (the fastest growing no and low alcohol cider in the on-trade), to ensure all pub-goers feel part of the occasion.
- Christmas Specials. Over half of consumers like to see seasonal drinks offered over the festive period, so be sure to include some options like mulled fruit cider that allow them to get more experimental with their repertoires. Guests want to enjoy the atmosphere they’re used to in hospitality venues at Christmas, so give some thought to your festive decorations and overall ambiance.
- Festive Experiences. With the Great British Pub an essential mainstay of the community consumers rely on their local to deliver rich experiences. Take advantage of your pub garden or outdoor space, where consumers will feel safer, and utilise areas that wouldn’t see much use during the colder months. You could even create your own Christmas market! Ensure you adhere to social distancing, by creating a one-way system and monitoring guest numbers, as well as setting up heaters and fairy lights so guests feel cosy and comfortable outside.
 kam media on trade outlook 2019 – report featuring 1,000 pub goers, january 2019