Publicans however have expressed some key concerns for their future including rising costs and competition from the off-trade. 37% of them say rising costs such as rates and electricity will be the biggest concerns in the coming year.
In the next 12 months we’ll see more focus on food and social media used in marketing by publicans, with one in three of them intending to increase their use of social media.
Some 650 UK publicans and consumers in were interviewed for the him! Future of Pubs research 2014.
This showed that publicans, suppliers and manufacturers need to ‘future-proof’ the on-trade channel to cater for younger customers.
For example, 18-24 year-olds intend visiting pubs more often in the coming 12 months. Customers engage with online activity and pubs need to keep the momentum going. The him! Future of Pubs research 2014 shows that six out of 10 customers visit pub websites.
78% of customers visiting a pub website do so to view the food menu while just 34% look at their facebook or twitter pages for this information.
Publicans are increasingly seeing the value of engaging with customers via social media. 65% of pubs have a facebook page compared to 57% in 2012. The majority of UK pub-goers (one in four) have visited a pub’s website but less than one in 20 engage via Twitter.
And ‘self-ordering’ (via touchscreen, tablet or smartphone) will increase in the UK despite many publicans’ reservations.
The him! Future of Pubs research 2014 found that one in six publicans would consider issuing staff with iPads and 30% would consider having a ‘Wave & Pay’ system. Despite all this, quality staff still drive the customer experience with 49% of customers believing that the quality of pub staff is very important to them enjoying their pub experience.
62% of publicans think that events drive footfall to their pub. 41% will be running more events over the next 12 months with seven in 10 customers thinking that pubs should run more events.
Publicans should also be aware of customers’ desire for local community involvement as well as a need for pubs to get behind events. Nine out of 10 pub owners say they’re already involved with their local community.
Food trends unaligned
‘A quiet drink’, at 76%, tops the list of most common reasons for visiting a pub. This is followed by ‘a sociable get-together’ (74%) and ‘going out for a meal’ (70%).
But publicans and their customers are not always aligned ion their thinking on this. Him!’s Future of Pubs research 2014 shows that customers have picked up some food trends that publicans may have underestimated.
Customers believe that the following trends seen in the next 12 months will be: homemade food (50%), locally-sourced (45%) and British (47%) whilst publicans believed it’s most important to promote locally-sourced food (45%), homemade (33%) and British (21%).
When ordering drinks, customers look for locally-sourced (43%), British (37%) and craft beers (33%). However publicans currently prefer to promote cask ales there (69%), craft beers (22%) and craft ciders (19%).
More and more pubs are realising the benefits of catering to additional food occasions.
If pubs had promotions/special offers on meals and drinks based on time of day (for example coffee and a related food breakfast item for a set price in the morning), 54% of customers would visit more often and 20% would stay longer, the research reveals.
Pubs can drive incremental spend through becoming more attractive to families, reports him!. 35% of publicans believe that making their pub more child- and mum-friendly mid-week would drive sales.