Restaurants 'should make the most of bar sales'

November 21 2013

The bar can often be a neglected area in restaurants, as operators are naturally focused heavily on their food offering. However, new research from Technomic has suggested companies could benefit significantly if they make an effort to improve their bar menus. 

The organization found consumers who purchase an adult beverage while at a restaurant tend to find the whole experience more enjoyable. Over 60 per cent of diners who ordered an alcoholic drink rated their last visit to an eating out venue as excellent, compared to only around 50 per cent of those who did not. 

Restaurants and bars were also found to be a good place for people to discover new beverages, as 25 per cent of the consumers surveyed said they learn about new products at these outlets. A further 30 per cent claimed trying a new alcoholic drink is an important part of the restaurant experience. 

Serving quality on-site beverages can drive off-premise purchases as well, as Technomic found 50 per cent of customers would buy a product to be consumed at home if they tried and liked it in a restaurant or bar first.

Attracting consumers and keeping them

The organization's research also revealed having a good bar menu can serve as an important means of driving traffic to a venue, with 32 per cent of people saying this is an important factor when they consider which outlet to visit. This is particularly key for the millennial generation, with 44 per cent of diners under 25 and 52 per cent between 25 and 35 citing it as something they look out for.

Donna Hood Crecca, senior director of Technomic's Adult Beverage Resource Group, stated: "Whether you're an operator or a supplier, understanding and supporting the vital role that restaurant drink programs play in your business can help ensure sustainable growth and long-term success."

As well as driving traffic to restaurants, Technomic found a good bar menu can boost loyalty. Some 42 per cent of adult-beverage purchasers said they would return to a return a venue, compared to 39 per cent of visitors as a whole. Meanwhile, 40 per cent of alcohol buyers would recommend a restaurant to friends or family, as opposed to 37 per cent of diners overall. 

Ms Hood Crecca said the difficult economic climate has made on-site beverage sales challenging in recent years, but it can still be an important avenue for restaurant operators.

"They're [customers] looking for value in terms of quality products, a broad selection and knowledgeable service staff, not to mention attractive price points, which will allow them to continue to enjoy the affordable indulgence of a drink in a restaurant," she stated.

The industry expert added that on-site sales of adult beverages such as craft beer and Irish whiskey have been "extremely important" to some fast-growing brands.

Canadian restaurants are still looking to exploit every opportunity to attract more customers in the difficult economic climate and this research from suggests improving their drinks menus could be an excellent way of doing this.