A primary challenge for all on-premise beverage professionals—in both restaurant and supplier organizations—is supporting restaurant adult-beverage programs. Food is the primary focus in restaurant companies, as it should be. But the bar and beverage menus are somewhat mysterious areas of the business—profitable when well-executed but shrouded in a certain level of mystery and, let’s be honest, risk. At most supplier companies, the off-premise channel yields more case volume than the on-premise does, so it undoubtedly garners the lion’s share of supplier resources, in terms of both personnel and budget.
Our work involves sizing the total adult-beverage market and then drilling into the on-premise channel. The information we glean from that, coupled with the consumer insights developed through various research initiatives, reveals that supporting on-premise drink programs and initiatives can pay handsome dividends across the entirety of restaurant and supplier businesses. Consider:
- Adult beverages drive traffic. A third of consumers (32%) polled for our new 2013 BarTAB Report said that for their most recent adult-beverage occasion, the bar menu was important or extremely important in their choice of venue. The drink program was even more important to Millennials: 44% of those younger than 25 and 52% of those ages 25–34 said as much.
- On-premise trial leads to off-premise purchases. Half of consumers reported that if they try and like a brand of spirits, wine or beer in an on-premise establishment, they’re likely to purchase it again for at-home enjoyment.
- Adult beverages lead to higher guest satisfaction. Consumers who ordered an adult beverage on their most recent restaurant visit were particularly likely to be highly satisfied with that occasion, according to a recent white paper based on our Consumer Brand Metrics restaurant brand performance tracking tool. More than three-fifths of adult-beverage consumers, compared with about half of those who did not order an adult beverage, gave their last visit an “excellent” rating.
- Many consumers discover new spirits, wine and beer products on-premise. A quarter of consumers surveyed for BarTAB said they learn about new adult-beverage products in restaurants and bars, and three in 10 agreed that learning about and sampling new adult beverages is an important part of the on-premise experience.
- Adult-beverage purchasers are loyal to particular restaurants. In a Consumer Brand Metrics poll, 39% of all visitors to restaurants that serve adult beverages said they would return to that restaurant in the near future. A larger share, 42%, of those who actually ordered an adult beverage at one of these restaurants said the same. Similarly, 37% of consumers overall said they would recommend the restaurant to friends, family or acquaintances, while 40% of adult-beverage consumers indicated that they would do so.
The adult-beverage category and leading brand performance metrics included in BarTAB reveal that the on-premise channel is extremely important to some fast-growing brands and categories, such as craft beer and Irish whiskey.
The on-premise channel has certainly been challenged recently. Uncertainty about the economy has consumers pulling back on away-from-home visits and spending. Our research reveals that they’re looking for value in terms of quality products, a broad selection and knowledgeable service staff, not to mention attractive price points, which will allow them to continue to enjoy the affordable indulgence of a drink in a restaurant. Whether you’re an operator or a supplier, understanding and supporting the vital role that restaurant drink programs play in your business can help ensure sustainable growth and long-term success.