Sociable Scotland from Molson Coors Scotland, based the findings on interviews with 201 publicans in Scotland and a poll of 1,000 Scottish consumers.
More than half of the publicans interviewed said they believed that the industry prospects were poor or very poor despite 47 per cent of consumers stating that pubs played a positive role in local communities compared to only 17 per cent who felt that their impact was negative.
But whilst many publicans had seen a reduction in sales in the last two years, 56 per cent saw their own business prospects as good or excellent over the next five years.
The negative outlook for the sector results from a steep decline in business over the last two years. Nearly one in two (46 per cent) consumers in Scotland say they go to the pub less frequently than they did in 2009. The drop in trade amongst lower income groups and students has been most pronounced, with a fall of 41 and 54 per cent respectively. Whilst lower income groups tended to claim that squeezed incomes were to blame for them cutting the number of visits to their local, others have reduced their visits to the bar for social reasons. A third of 18 to 43 year-olds said that as their friends didn’t go they didn’t either — and 31 per cent of 35 to 44 year-olds cited family commitments as the reason for fewer visits to the pub.
Despite this, only five per cent of Scots felt that the entertainment was better at home than in the pub.
Phil Whitehead, Managing Director of Molson Coors, Scotland, commented, “It’s obviously a challenging time for the Scottish licensed trade but this report demonstrates there are huge numbers of publicans in Scotland doing the right things to grow their businesses such as offering food, entertainment, and sports broadcasting”.
Both consumers and publicans were split on the likely effect of the proposed minimum price for alcohol. 39 per cent of consumers felt that its introduction would have a positive impact while 42 per cent felt that it would be negative step.
Licensees believed it would have a beneficial impact on Scotland (57 per cent to 32 per cent) but would do little to help their business with 28 per cent believing that minimum pricing will negatively affect their business.
?“Our report not only found challenges but huge opportunities for Scottish pubs,” explained Phil Whitehead, “In a declining industry, new beer styles, new occasions and potential new beer drinkers who already consume alcohol but who currently enjoy beer infrequently or not at all are all opportunities. We believe we have the most diverse beer portfolio in the market which spans bar top favourite lagers to cask ales, alongside new innovations will help reignite the beer industry and rebuild engagement in the category. That is why we are confident that Molson Coors can have a 20 per cent market share in Scotland by 2020.
As well as increasing the support it provides to the industry, Molson Coors recently launched a new product line – Animée, a range of beers designed by women for women. Animée is hitting the shelves and will be moving into selected pubs and clubs in the coming months, as part of a concerted effort to reach the 35 per cent of women who are only irregular pub drinkers. Molson Coors is also investing £7.3m in the Carling brand to refresh and update the image of Britain’s favourite beer.
Phil Whitehead concluded, ?“We believe now is the time to champion beer in Scotland and we’re happy to take the lead in revitalising the category by investing in new products, more people and better support for our customers. With investment and a fresh approach to the Scottish beer market, we will are ready to pounce on a consumer upturn.”