With Christmas just around the corner, the most important selling period for the on trade is fast approaching, which means there’s no time like the present, for pub and bar operators to start reviewing their ranges, finalise food menus and prepare for the inevitable flurry of beer and cider sales.
The festive season comes with more reasons for consumers to socialise as they look for great experiences to enjoy with friends and family out of home. As part of HEINEKEN UK’s largest piece of category research ever undertaken, The Greenpaper, the UK’s largest pub, cider and beer business predicts another year of bumper sales[FB1] .
When you consider that a tenth of all wet volume in the on trade is delivered in the month of December, this represents more than £1.25 billion, therefore the Christmas period presents a key opportunity to maximise sales and secure a successful end to the year for your outlet. At a time when consumers are spending more and looking to treat themselves to more premium options, it is essential that operators are suitably prepared for the festive season.
In the spirit of the season, HEINEKEN has wrapped up Four Top Tips from The Greenpaper to assist operators in making this Christmas one to remember:
Get your range right - when ranging for the Christmas period, operators should stock a variety of products that cater for different tastes and motivations. With planned groups - whether a family celebration or office party - more frequent at this time of year, getting the basics right by stocking staples such as Foster’s, Strongbow Original and Strongbow Dark Fruit is key. People in groups want easy choices and are looking to make a quick decision so that they can continue enjoying each other’s company.
Encourage trade-up – with customers more inclined to trade up to premium drinks options as a treat during the Christmas season, offering favourites such as Birra Moretti, Amstel[FB2] , and Old Mout, allows operators to capitalise on this consumer mindset and boost sales. These brands tend to over-index at Christmas vs the rest of the year and are therefore likely to perform well. Old Mout, is the fastest growing premium flavoured cider in the on-trade with 25% increase in volume share and 31% increase in value share versus the previous year[FB3] . Birra Moretti has also experienced significant growth in the past year with 46.9% increase in volume share and 48.1% in value share.
Festive Food Pairings – Creating a strong Christmas dining offer is another opportunity to attract more customers and maximise consumer spend, particularly as over half of Brits visit pubs to eat. Food is present at a third of all drinking occasions and this is growing. By creatively pairing food with a beer or cider range, operators can deliver more value to the consumer, whilst driving both footfall and repeat business. Operators should highlight beers that work well with Christmas roasts and other Christmas food - such as Amstel and Maltsmiths Pilsner. Featuring these products on the menu will help customers to make a choice that complements their food, ensuring they have a great experience which in turn increases their spend.
Make more from moderation - There are now 5.5million adults in the UK who abstain from alcohol and with the rise of health-conscious consumers, operators should stock low and no alcohol options to harness additional sales from customers who are keen to “Live Better” without compromising on taste. December represents the highest month of sales for low and no alcohol beer in the on-trade, with 1.7m bottles drunk in December 2017 – that’s 60,000 a day! Heineken 0.0 is the fastest growing brand in the category, responding directly to festive party goers looking to moderate their alcohol intake, but still enjoy great tasting beer over the busy festive season. Avoid duplication as the rate of sale is smaller than alcoholic bottles, so limit your selection to one or two recognised brands. Fridge placement is also key, so ensure your customers can see your low or no-alcohol brands. And don’t forget cider, stock Old Mout Alcohol Free too.
Jerry Shedden, Category and Trade Marketing Director at HEINEKEN, said: “A great Christmas sales period can provide the perfect boost to end of year sales, so it’s important to be prepared. With increased footfall and greater number of socialising occasions we hope our top tips, can help licensees be confident in their offering, capitalise on the latest trends and help to stand out from the crowd.”
HEINEKEN’s six drivers for on trade growth, from The Greenpaper, give licensees actionable insight to help drive sales, presenting consumers with a reason to head out to the on trade and increase their spend at the bar – with the potential to unlock an incremental value of £1bn across the category by 2021.
 CGA OPM to 15/07/2017
 Source: CGA Strategy 52 w/e 21st January 2018
 CGA OPM to 15/07/2017
 BBPA On-trade 30th December 2017 VALSHR & VOLSHR Cider
 CGA OPMS, MAT to 11/08/2018
 Mintel – Pub Visiting - 2017
 Source: Kantar Alcovision December 2017
 Kantar Alcovision 31/12/2017
 CGA On Premise Measurement Data to 19 May 2018