Today’s pub-goers

Comprehensive new research conducted to coincide with the LVA’s Bicentenary focuses on the behaviours and attitudes to pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes by today’s pub-goers. It examines current consumer behaviours and their perceptions of different pub types.

An online qualitative survey of nearly 200 alcohol drinkers resident in Dublin – a roughly equal mix of males and females between the ages of 18 and 54 – was undertaken by Join The Dots, a UK-based agency, while marketing consultants dunhumby surveyed the attitudes and behaviours of over 800 adult shoppers and panelists of all ages on Irish pubs.

Data was also taken from MilwardBrown’s annual establishment survey on shopper behavioural patterns within the Dublin on-trade to examine the penetration of pubs both in Dublin and countrywide. This is what they found.


Pub groupings by age

The 18-34 segment comprises the biggest group of drinkers in Dublin pubs at 31%.

This segment is followed by those over 55 at 30%, those aged 35-44 at 21% and those in the 45-54 segment at 18%.


Pub occasions

The research, carried out last November, discovered there to be 92.8 million ‘occasions’ – single person visits – within Dublin pubs a year, 6% up on November 2015. Those in the 55-plus age group hold the largest share of Dublin occasions at 32%, up 3% on last year. However while those in the 35-44 age group showed a 36% increase in occasions to hold 23% of the total, those in the crucial 18-34 age segment showed a decline of 3% to hold 28% of occasions.

Within this age grouping, the survey found a drop of 20% in the number Dublin pub visit occasions among 18-24 year-olds compared to last year. This equates to 2,600 less occasions per Dublin pub.

But the number of Dublin pub occasions was 7% up for 25-34 year-olds, representing 1,500 more occasions per Dublin pub.

The 45-54 age segment declined 5%, holding 17% of total occasions.



Customer profile

Some 700,000 people drink in Dublin pubs, evenly broken down between males and females while some 2.9 million drink in pubs around Ireland, 60% of whom are male.

Saturday is the biggest day in the pub’s weekend accounting for 39% of weekly consumption. Surprisingly, Sunday accounts for 19% while Friday accounts for one per cent less at 18%.

Altogether, the weekend itself accounts for 76% of weekly consumption in the pub so that only one in four pints are sold from Monday to Thursday.

A number of key drivers to going out tap into wider trends for the different age groups.


18-34: busiest lives//less time//new experiences

On average in any given week one in four of those in the 18 to 34 age segment will visit the pub.

This has become a challenging environment for publicans – they’re no longer competing with other pubs, points out the survey.

Atmosphere, Location, Engaging Staff, Safety and Seat Availability figure as the top five reasons for going to the pub in this segment who’re more likely to want later/flexible opening hours and live or background music.

This cohort are also more likely to want a larger/specific drinks selection and seek drinks promotions and special offers in the pub. This age category is defined by young adults who’re much more likely to go to a pub with a group of mixed male and female friends than their older contemporaries. Draught beer would be their number one choice of drink when entering the pub.

Spirits and cocktails are also important for young adults who’re willing to spend more on premium product in the pub.

Perhaps surprisingly, pub games are becoming more important to this age group with one in four young adults participating in games when in the pub.



35-44: young family//know what they want

This age bracket is generally classed to be raising a family and as a result would have less activities and time in a week compared to 18-34 year-olds. 35-44s are more likely to attend an indoor/outdoor sporting event than go to the pub in any given week. Their top five reasons for going to the pub are: Location, Atmosphere, Engaging Staff, Food Quality and Seat Availability.

They’re more likely to want a family-friendly pub with live or background music but which also has drinks promotions and special offers. They’re considered unique because home consumption trends highly in this age group, with ‘going out’ versus ‘staying in’ the main decision to be made. More than half of them look for live music when visiting the pub. But within this age group, one in three visits comprise groups of females.


45-54 – willing to pay more for quality//engaging bar staff

This age group has just as many activities in their average week as 35-44s but are considered to have more time on their hands.

Half of them would prefer the ‘local’ to the city centre pub. Restaurants rank third above visiting a friend or relative in this age group with one in 10 visiting a restaurant weekly.

The top five reasons for going to the pub in this segment are: Engaging Staff, Atmosphere, Location, Food Quality and Seat Availability.

45-54s are more likely to want warm food available, family-friendly pubs and music. 45-54s are unique because going to the pub with a spouse/partner along with a mixed gender group of friends comprises their most common feature. They’re the least likely to be interested in cocktails, preferring draught beer, wine and spirits.

70% of customers in this age segment actively participate in ‘chatting to bar staff’.


55+: Fewest activities//Food Quality//Engaging Bar Staff

This age group has the fewest activities competing for their time so are more likely to visit a pub over other distractions in an average week. Similarly they’re more likely to be found in a pub/bar on a Friday and a restaurant on a Saturday. The pub ranks as the top activity for visits; one in five in this age segment visit weekly.

Their top five reasons for going to the pub are: Safety, Engaging Staff, Location, Food Quality and Atmosphere. They’re more likely to want quality hot food available in a family-friendly pub or bar. 55+s are unique because they’re the most likely to visit the pub with a spouse/partner or with the family. When choosing a location, the majority of them favour the ‘local’ pub over the city centre equivalent. Wine and spirits fall secondary to beer when ordering a drink.

Like 45-54s 70% of 55+s will actively chat to staff.



As a result of the research the LVA recommends winning over Millennials and 35-44s.

18-34s are going to the pub less often but it’s important to recruit this segment.

Creating an environment that appeals to groups of mixed gender with games/activities and creating a live music calendar will help drive footfall and more frequent pub visits from this age cohort. Offering interesting/different food and drinks (especially craft beers, ciders and spirits), supporting this with knowledgeable staff and changing offers so that patrons can trial new products, will also attract this grouping. Asking patrons to share their experiences on social media can be supported with in-pub promotions or prizes for ensuring this segment’s growth.

35-44s are the fastest-growing group by drinkers and occasions so publicans are advised to create a live music calendar to help drive footfall and achieve more frequent visits to the pub. Find a niche and do it well, advises the LVA.

Educate staff on upselling and on the different drink offerings – knowledgeable and engaging staff dramatically improves the customer experience as well as growing sales.

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