Pubs remain top out-of-home UK activity

Visiting the pub remains the top out-of-home activity - cited by 34% of respondents - for adults in the UK, in Carlsberg UK’s bi-annual Consumer Insights Report 2014, slightly up from 33% four years ago .

31% put going shopping as their top activity, 30% visiting a coffee shop and playing sport (22%), while going to the gym scored 20%, going to a restaurant scored 17% and going to the cinema scored 6%.

The research, designed to identify ways to drive incremental pub visits, spend and profit, is based on 1,800 UK respondents and finds significant growth coming from ‘Families’.


But the ‘Single Wise Affluent Grown-up’ category (those 36-54 who’re single/divorced/widowed and with no children) also shows growth; the ‘Empty Nesters’ category shows growth too.

But there’s a decline among ‘Young, Free and Singles’ (18-25, single, with no children who’re ‘carefree with no long-term commitments’) and among ‘Nesting Couples’ (20-35 with no children, in a serious relationship and planning for the future).



What makes a good outlet?

The survey found 79% of respondents put ‘quality of food’ as ‘essential’, up 2% on the 2012 survey.

Below this came ‘value for money’ and ‘cleanliness’, ‘type of food’, ‘drinks prices’, ‘quality of toilets’ and ‘staff friendliness’.

‘Location’ and ‘food prices’ were considered ‘important’, ahead of ‘Atmosphere’, ‘service levels’, ‘furniture’, ‘table service’, ‘good parking’ and ‘security’.

The ‘icing on the top’ included having a ‘beer garden’, ‘where mates go’, ‘pre-bookable tables’, ‘free WiFi’, ‘open late’, ‘healthier food’, ‘award-winning’, ‘know everyone there’ and ‘has dance floor’.

“As occasions become more treat than habit, consumers are becoming increasingly demanding around retail standards, with the social aspects of the pub becoming less important.”

Drinks prices are the top factor for the young while for couples, SWAGs and Empty Nesters it’s value-for-money and cleanliness for Families.



Pubs – it’s a repertoire thing

Only 1% of UK pub-goers visit just one outlet a year. Most have a repertoire of outlets to choose from. Half have between 5-10 outlets with 13% having 11 or more.

According to the report, “Different outlets are used for different occasions, whether it’s the local for a pint, a food pub for a decent meal, the sports bar to watch the football or an upmarket outlet for a big night out in town”.

Personal recommendations and just walking in remain the top two reasons for visiting a pub.

“However this is being replaced by the internet and social media as consumers use their smartphones and tablets to find out information about your pub,“ states the report.


The Social Hub

With 64% of drinkers now visiting monthly or less frequently, the UK on-trade needs to talk to consumers when they’re not in their outlet.

“Social media is vital to engaging current and new customers with your offering, events and activities, giving people a reason to come through the door and prompting additional visits,” suggests the report.


Future customers

Young Free & Singles remain engaged with the on-trade and are more likely to be regular visitors than older drinkers.

However there’s a significant drop in frequency of YF&S visits.


Women and the pub

It’s not just the lost female occasions that costs the trade, it points out, but women’s lack of engagement with pubs puts pressure on male visits too.

“Getting your offer right and making the environment, food and drinks range and service level right, for both genders, is key.

“They’re still engaged with the pub (63% visiting monthly) but need reasons to visit more frequently and there’s a need to think about events and activities that will appeal to them.”


A Calendar of events

Mother’s Day is now the busiest day of the year for many food-led outlets.

All-day low prices are the top footfall driver with 39% of UK consumers with a total of 66% putting this among their Top 3.


PowerPoint Presentation






Try something different

  • 48% of UK pub-goers have tried a new drink in the last month, up from 43% in 2012 and 37% in 2010.
  • Young Free & Singles are more adventurous scoring 69% but Families (56%) and even some Empty Nesters (26%) are trying new products, so don’t be afraid to stock new brands.
  • Food, soft drinks and wine are key categories where people will try new things, but lager is actually higher than ale. Rotational and seasonal ales have long been popular with the trade, but how many operators evolve and mix their lager range?



“Even the greatest insights hold little value unless they are considered and ultimately acted upon,” said Carlsberg’s Director of Customer Marketing in the UK Kathryn Purchase in summing up the report.




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