Here are six post-Covid-19 shifts for suppliers and operators to consider.
1 Rising confidence
The Opus survey shows that nine in 10 (89%) consumers now feel very or quite confident about visiting pubs, bars and restaurants — a big upswing of 23 percentage points since 2021. It’s a welcome sign that hospitality has returned to nearly full capacity — ‘though it’s worth remembering that a small number of consumers may remain anxious about crowded venues for a while yet.
2 After-work drinks and big nights bounce back
The reopening of Ireland’s on-trade triggered a wave of celebratory occasions as consumers caught up on the visits they’d missed during Lockdowns. These remain the most popular reason to eat and drink out but we’ve seen a strong recovery in other occasions too. More than a quarter (28%) of consumers say that they go out for after-work drinks at least once a quarter — up by 10 percentage points year-on-year after a steady return of people to workplaces. Those going out for High Tempo drinks has also risen by eight percentage points to 21% as Covid-19 concerns ease.
3 Trust in brands
After months of on-trade closures consumers have returned to the drinks brands they trust. The Opus survey shows that half (51%) think well-known brands are important in their choices, making it a more significant factor than quality (44%) — ‘though drinkers retain high expectations that their drink will provide good value for their spend.
4 Room for trade-ups
Returning consumers have been ready to treat themselves to more premium options when they go out. Well over half (58%) say they’re likely to pay extra for a better quality drink. Cocktail drinkers are particularly willing to upgrade. Whether this trend is sustained through the cost-of-living crisis remains to be seen.
5 No and Low grows
People’s sharp focus on wellbeing since the start of the pandemic is translating into a growing appetite for healthy drinks. More than a third (37%) say that they’re drinking No or Low Alcohol alternatives more often than they were a year ago. Nearly as many (35%) are buying Hard Seltzers more frequently too.
6 Opportunities at Christmas
Rising confidence and the first ‘normal’ Christmas since 2019 mean that December could be a bumper month. More than half (55%) plan to visit the on-trade over the Festive period and there are opportunities to attract the 27% who’re unsure for now. December also brings the football World Cup and half (51%) plan to watch games in pubs and bars.
For operators and suppliers, balancing their needs with those of Christmas party-goers is going to be crucial.